8 Benefits of Deep Breathing
1) Lowers Your Blood Pressure and Reduces Stress
Breathing deeply elicits the body’s “relaxation response,” a biological process whereby the nervous system begins to slows down, blood pressure lowers, and stress hormones subside. The benefits of deep breathing for reducing anxiety and stress are well-documented, and are explained in more detail in our article on stress reduction.
2) Strengthens the Abdominal and Intestinal Muscles
Controlled deep breathing strengthens the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, while massaging internal organs such as the intestines and pancreas. As we deeply inhale and exhale, the up-and-down motion of the diaphragm, and the expanding and contracting abdomen and rib cage, are what massages the internal organs.
3) Aids Digestion
Deep breathing supports the digestive system by improving oxygenation of the abdomen and intestines, which is essential for the efficient digestion of food. Breathing deeply speeds up the process of digestion, so your body can devote its resources to other functions such as cellular repair.
4) Promotes Mental Clarity
Initiating the body’s relaxation response calms the nervous system and slows down brain activity. In this state, mental chatter fades away, creating the conditions for optimal concentration, clarity, and mental focus. Learn more about how deep breathing and relaxation affects mental health.
5) Relieves Aches and Pains
Intentional, deep breathing is one of the best non-invasive and natural ways to manage chronic pain. Studies have shown that deep breathing can reduce pain by lowering stress levels and relaxing muscles, elevating mood, and calming the nervous system. Multi-modal pain treatment plans that consist of deep breathing, mindfulness, light movement, alignment and other practices represent the new frontier of non-pharmacological pain management.
6) Improves Blood Flow
Deep breathing, guided by the diaphragm, boosts blood circulation and increases oxygen levels in your body. Improving the saturation of oxygen in your body raises your energy levels and improves brain function.
7) Releases Toxins from the Body
Exhaling expels carbon dioxide from the bloodstream and lungs. By deepening breathing, you increase the rate at which the body can process and expel toxins from your system. Detoxification plans should include a combination of diet, deep breathing exercises, and stress reduction techniques.
8) Improves Sleep Naturally
While many people turn to pharmaceuticals or over-the-counter sleep aids to fight insomnia, a natural and much healthier antidote to sleeplessness is the practice of deep breathing. Deep breathing—particularly the long exhale—switches on the parasympathetic nervous system and activates the body’s relaxation response, which prepares the body for sleep naturally.