Healthy living: Breathing your way to good health

Published: February 10, 2013
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Are you under a lot of stress at work or at home?

You don’t need to spend lots of cash to buy yourself some peace of mind. All you need to do is spare a few seconds and focus on your breathing. It is something we can control and regulate to achieve a relaxed state of mind.

Breathing is at the centre of any pilates or yoga exercise. In order to maximise the effects of any exercise, it is important to practice deep breathing.

It is time to get to the bottom of these breathing techniques now. Follow closely; it is not as easy as it sounds!

 

  1. Lie down on your back on the bed or an exercise mat.
  2. Place your feet about shoulder-width apart. Rest one hand on your navel and the other on your chest.
  3. Slowly inhale through your nose, filtering the air, and exhale through the mouth.
  4. Concentrate on your breathing for a few minutes; be aware of which hand is rising and which one is descending with each breath you take. Keep your shoulders relaxed and do not push them upwards.
  5. Exhale most of the air in your lungs.
  6. Now inhale slowly counting to four, with an interval of only one second between the numbers, and notice how your belly button starts to move away from the spine.
  7. Then exhale and experience the reverse process where your belly button is drawn towards the spine to force the air out of the lungs.

 

Repeat this five to ten times and if you experience difficulty while inhaling and exhaling to the count of four, simply shorten the count.  Ideally, take 10 breaths in the morning and 10 at night, or as many as you can, to get in sync and to make it a part of your daily routine.

If you want to make the exercises a bit more fun, get your hands on a pilates ball and get rolling.

1. To begin, place your mat on the floor and lie on it.

– Bend your knees so your feet are firmly pressed on the mat.

– Hold a small pilates ball in your hands, close to your knees, and take a deep breath. Slowly bring your arms over your head, lengthening the spine and pushing the belly button towards the spine.

– Exhale and bring your arms back to their original position.

– Repeat 10 times.

2. For this exercise, place the short side of your mat against a wall.

– Sit on the exercise mat with your back against the wall.

– Stretch your legs before you and keep them wide apart.

– Hold the pilates ball and stretch your arms before you.

– Inhale and bring your arms over your head, lengthening your torso.

– Exhale and bring your arms back to position.

– Repeat 10 times.

Tips:

Inhaling energises the body and exhaling relaxes it. To rejuvenate the mind and the body, take more time inhaling and less time exhaling. You will notice the instant calming effect.

Always keep the shoulders relaxed and do not raise your chest. Try to lengthen your torso so you can keep your spine straight. It is also one of the best ways to increase height.

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, February 10th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (3)

  • Feb 11, 2013 - 8:25PM

    Yoga partly originated in what constitutes Pakistan today. Yoga, which has proved to improve the quality of life of 100% of the people who practice it, is something to be proud of and Indians very well are. Its part and parcel of the dominant cultural ethos of India, also called Hinduism.

    I often hear Pakistanis claiming Henna is their heritage, but never Yoga. I think this is because of the undeniable Hindu symbolisms and terminology in Yoga. Even though Henna has Hindu origins, it can be disputed by semantics. But, not so with Yoga.
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  • Genesis
    Apr 7, 2013 - 9:51PM

    This is Pranayama or the science of breathing a part of Yoga to calm the mind and help you focus.If done under proper guidance it can help one develop immunity and largely be free of respiratory ailments.It also regulates the heartbeats in a more orderly and rhythmic manner

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  • tee
    Apr 7, 2013 - 11:00PM

    Just join Art of Living class and your life will change forever.

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