Slow, Rhythmical Breathing Provides Substantial Benefits

I talk in my books books and elsewhere about the importance of slowing down our breathing for increased health and well-being. Though physiology text books tell us that the average breath rate for adults at rest is about 12-18 breaths a minute, serious practitioners of qigong, yoga, tai chi, and so on generally breathe at a much slower rate than this. And research from various quarters has shown that this slower breathing brings with it many physical, emotional, and mental benefits.

One such report, based on research from several internal medicine and cardiology professors and physicians, shows that shows that rhythmic formulas such as the rosary and yoga mantras have a powerful slowing influence on our breath and can thus “can synchronize and reinforce inherent cardiovascular rhythms and baroreflex sensitivity.” The researchers found, in fact, that “Rhythm formulas that involve breathing at six breaths per minute induce favorable psychological and possibly physiological effects.” You can read the report at:

http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/323/7327/1446

In pondering this fascinating research it is interesting to realize that the world’s great spiritual traditions employ ritual methods that slow down the breath: meditation, mantras, prayer, chant, qigong, tai chi, yoga, special breathing exercises, and so on. Many of us, however, do not participate in such activities, and so, unless we undertake special breathing practices, our breath (and our life) is usually at the mercy of whatever high-speed individual or cultural stresses we face.

There are numerous ways to slow down your breathing. The important thing is to find safe, natural methods that you enjoy practicing for several minutes each day on a regular basis. For as the researchers found, “Repeated training to slow down breathing also reduces the spontaneous breathing rate, and thus may have more than just short term effects.”

Breathing Tip

The movement of the diaphragm–and thus the quality of your breathing–is adversely influenced by unnecessary mental, emotional, and physical tension and stress. As many times as you can remember each day, be sure to sense your entire mind/body and spend a few minutes at a time to relax any unnecessary tension you find. This will help relax your breathing, which in turn will help reduce any mental and emotional stress you are experiencing.

If you’re serious about working to slow down your breathing, all of my books, but especially Free Your Breath, Free Your Life, offer ways to do so in a natural, rhythmical way. In the meantime, I suggest you explore the straw-breathing practice.

Copyright 2009-14 by Dennis Lewis

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