The great masters have been teaching about conscious breathing since the beginning of time. Yet, most of us do not pay attention to our breathing habits. We think of breathing as something that happens automatically. But what happens if we really focus on improving our breathing on a daily basis?
The more I look into it, the more I am starting to realize how important breathing is, and how crucial it is to improve our health and wellness. Proper breathing needs to be at the center of our efforts to improve our overall health and energy levels.
What Is Conscious Breathing?
Conscious breathing is simply about paying more attention to our breathing. Conscious breathing can also involve breathing techniques to bring more oxygen into our cells.
Most of the breaths we take only use about 30% of our lung capacity. Exercising certainly increases the amount of oxygen we take into our body, which is one of the main benefits of exercise.
But conscious breathing is much easier than physical exercise – we can do it while sitting still or lying down. We can achieve many of the benefits of exercise by simply improving our breathing habits.
Our modern lifestyle is terrible for our breathing habits. Using cell phones, watching TV, working at a desk… all of these are bad for proper breathing and reduce our overall oxygen levels.
Next time you are using social media, pay attention to your breathing. Are your breaths shallow or deep? Are they regular or sporadic? Most of us slouch when we do these things and our breathing is shallow and irregular. Shallow breathing hinders blood circulation, increases stress, and lowers energy levels.
Benefits Of Conscious Breathing
The good news is, with just a little effort each day, conscious breathing can reduce stress, reduce anxiety, increase energy and vitality, improve mental clarity, clear emotional trauma, and even help break cravings and addictions.
Through conscious breathing, we can activate our body’s natural cleansing and immunity systems, while also enhancing our energy levels. With proper breathing habits, our whole body will simply “work better”.
Sustained, proper breathing habits can heal just about anything, but the benefits don’t stop there.
Conscious Breathing and Self-Mastery
Every form of self-mastery exercise, including meditation and yoga, requires conscious breathing. And yet, in our modern haste, we often forget the importance of breathing properly.
Most yoga classes today hardly mention breathing and are totally focused on body position and movements. True yogis know that yoga is more about breathing than body positioning or stretching.
Likewise, meditation has more to do with breathing than “clearing your mind”. Conscious breathing is also used in energy healing practices like Reiki, Qi Gong, and Quantum Touch.
When it comes to self-mastery, everything begins with proper breathing.
Conscious Breathing Is Easy
We do not have to learn any special self-mastery practice to improve our breathing. Improving our breathing is one of the easiest things to learn. Conscious breathing costs nothing, can be done anywhere, anytime, and creates immediate improvements in just a few minutes.
And while “meditation” may sound complicated or difficult for some people, “breathing” sounds, and is, easy. Conscious breathing can be taught to anyone, even those who would be unwilling to try “spiritual” practices like yoga or meditation.
Conscious Breathing Techniques
There are numerous types of breathing techniques out there. Unfortunately, once an idea as simple as breathing hits the mainstream, everyone starts to complicate it. Experts want to chime in and explain why their method of breathing is the best, which only confuses everyone.
Certainly, some breathing techniques are going to be more beneficial than others, but the basic idea is very, very simple – breath more deeply and do it often.
One of the easiest kinds of conscious breathing is to simply breathe in as much air as you can, hold at the top for a second or two, and then breathe out slowly, exhaling as much air as you possibly can. We might call this “full” breathing. Try full breathing for 10 minutes. How do you feel?
Full breathing should feel comfortable – you should not feel light headed or dizzy. Breathe in at a pace that feels right for you until the very upper parts of your lungs are full, then breathe out at a pace that feels right using the very bottom of your stomach to push all the air out.
The main idea is to get more oxygen flowing through the upper and lower channels of your lungs and diaphragm. You are “doing it right” if it feels good and you are getting more oxygen running through your body. Find the pace of breathing that works for you.
Another conscious breathing technique is called 4-7-8. Breathe in deeply for four seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, breathe out for 8 seconds. Repeat for as long as feels right. 5 or 10 minutes is a good target for beginners. Again, this should feel very comfortable over a duration of several minutes. If it doesn’t, stop and try a pace that works better for you.
Advanced breathing is beyond the scope of this article (I plan to do a follow up article), but dedicated masters will spend two or more hours per day to conscious breathing, whether it is during yoga, meditation, or some other practice.
The more oxygen you cycle through your body, the better you will feel. It doesn’t get any more simple than that! The great mystery of life was right there in front of us all along…
Videos About Conscious Breathing
Here is a Ted Talk that discuss more about conscious breathing, including a description of the 4-7-8 technique near the end…