We all breathe. It's an involuntary function that keeps us alive. But did you know that taking control of your breath can have a profound impact on your physical and mental well-being? 

Controlled breathing, also known as deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, involves consciously slowing down your breath rate and engaging your diaphragm for more relaxation.

This simple technique might seem insignificant, yet if NASA is encouraging its employees to practice controlled breathing, there must be a reason! Research shows that controlled breathing offers a wide range of benefits, from reducing stress and anxiety to improving sleep and overall health.

In this article, you will find a list of ten benefits of controlled breathing. But before diving into the benefits, let us understand what controlled breathing is exactly.

What is Controlled Breathing?

Unlike shallow chest breathing, which uses the muscles between your ribs, controlled breathing is meant to engage your diaphragm, the large dome-shaped muscle below your lungs. The principle lies in the regularity and the slow pace of the breathing pattern, while putting more emphasis on the exhale.

Here's a controlled breathing pattern example:

  • Slowly breathe in through your nose for a count of 4-6 seconds. Feel your belly expand as your diaphragm pushes down. Try to maintain your chest still. 
  • Hold your breath for a brief moment (1-2 seconds) at the peak of your inhale.
  • Slowly exhale through pursed lips for a count of 6-8 seconds. Feel your belly contract recoiling naturally as your diaphragm relaxes.

Repeat this cycle for several minutes, focusing on your breath and the sensations in your body. If you need extra guidance, try using breathing tools, like Oxa, to assist you on your breath journey. 

Get to know about: How to Control Your Emotions With Your Breath

10 Benefits of Controlled Breathing

Now, let's explore the impressive benefits of incorporating controlled breathing into your daily routine:

1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can manifest in various ways, including rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, and racing thoughts. Controlled breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, your body's "rest and digest" response. This counteracts the fight-or-flight response triggered by stress, slowing your heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and promoting feelings of calm.

2. Boosts the Immune System

Chronic stress can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. Controlled breathing, by reducing stress hormones like cortisol, can help strengthen your immune system and improve overall health. 

A study found that practicing slow, deep breathing for just 12 minutes significantly reduced stress markers like cortisol in participants.

3. Improves Sleep Quality

Struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep? Controlled breathing can be a powerful sleep aid. By calming your mind and body, it promotes relaxation and prepares you for restful sleep. 

A study showed that practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing significantly improved sleep quality in adults with chronic insomnia.

4. Improves Digestion

Stress can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Controlled breathing, by promoting relaxation, can improve digestion and alleviate digestive issues like bloating and constipation.

5. Boosts Focus and Concentration

Feeling scattered or forgetful? Controlled breathing can help sharpen your focus. It increases oxygen flow to the brain, enhancing cognitive function and improving concentration. 

A study found that slow-paced breathing training improved working memory and cognitive control in healthy adults.

6. Enhances Emotional Regulation

Feeling overwhelmed by emotions? Controlled breathing can help you manage them more effectively. 

By calming your nervous system, it allows you to gain a sense of control over your emotions and respond in a more mindful way.

7. Lowers Blood Pressure

Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure. Controlled breathing, by reducing stress hormones and promoting relaxation, can help lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health.

A review analyzed multiple studies and found that regular deep breathing practices can effectively reduce blood pressure in adults with hypertension.

8. Increases Energy Levels

Feeling sluggish? Controlled breathing can help improve energy levels. By increasing oxygen intake and promoting relaxation, it allows your body to function more efficiently, leaving you feeling more energized throughout the day.

9. Manages Pain

Chronic pain can be debilitating. Controlled breathing can help manage pain by reducing stress and anxiety associated with pain perception. 

A study showed that slow-paced breathing exercises were effective in reducing pain perception in patients with chronic low back pain.

10. Enhances Overall Well-being

The benefits of controlled breathing extend far beyond managing specific issues. By promoting relaxation, improving focus, and boosting the immune system, controlled breathing contributes to a sense of overall well-being and a healthier you.

Takeaways

While controlled breathing is a simple technique, mastering it takes practice. It can be challenging to maintain slow, deep breaths, especially during stressful situations. 

That's where Oxa comes in as an essential tool for guiding you through controlled breathing exercises. With Oxa, you'll learn to quiet your mind, activate your body's relaxation response, and unlock a sense of calm that persists long after you take your final exhale. 

Taking control of your breath is taking control of your well-being, empowering you to navigate life's challenges with focus and inner peace. It is a powerful tool that can unlock a calmer, more resilient you, ready to meet whatever life throws your way.

FAQ

Q. What is Controlled Breathing?

Unlike shallow breathing, controlled breathing uses your diaphragm, a muscle below your lungs. For example, you can breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 4-6 seconds, hold for 1-2 seconds, then exhale slowly through pursed lips for 6-8 seconds. This type of breathing works best when repeated for several minutes.

Q. How Does Controlled Breathing Reduce Stress and Anxiety?

Stress triggers the "fight-or-flight" response, making your heart race and blood pressure rise. Controlled breathing activates the "rest and digest" response, slowing your heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and promoting feelings of calm.

Q. Can Controlled Breathing Help Me Sleep Better?

Yes! By calming your mind and body, controlled breathing promotes relaxation and prepares you for restful sleep. Studies show it can significantly improve sleep quality in adults with insomnia.

Q. What Other Benefits Does Controlled Breathing Offer?

Controlled breathing can boost your immune system, improve digestion, enhance focus and emotional regulation, lower blood pressure, increase energy levels, manage pain, and so much more, contributing to your overall well-being.

Stéphane Janssoone
Published:
June 10, 2024

A former elite triathlete, now a competitive freediver, MBTI I & 2, Certified Wim Hof, and Oxygen Advantage Instructor, epitomizes mastery in breathwork and personal development. As the founder of the Breathing Academy and Oxa Life’s Breathing Advisor, his transformative breath-based techniques profoundly impact individuals’ health and performance through an innovative and holistic approach.

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