The Benefits of Controlled Breathing + Instructions

Every breath we take supplies body`s cells with life. At the same time, it removes detrimental carbon dioxide to keep us alive.

Controlled breathing is a fundamental element in many ancient traditions, such as yoga and meditation. For instance, ancient yogis believed in the healing power of breathing. Both Yogis and Buddhists taught their students the technique with whose help they were able to inhale and exhale – along with the rationale behind intentional breathing.

It turns out that these people were indeed way beyond their time. Proper breathing “counteracts the adverse clinical effects of stress in disorders including hypertension, anxiety, insomnia, and aging,” studies show.

Controlled breathing is one way to trigger your relaxation response, as it activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn may slow down your heart rate and digestion which helps you feel calm.” ~ Dr. Joseph Mercola: “Breathe, Exhale and Repeat: What Are the Benefits of Controlled Breathing?

Many people breathe improperly, having the innate tendency to breathe shallowly or chest-breath. We should breathe with the belly, which is known as called ‘diaphragmic breathing.’ Engaging in a diaphragmic breathing practice consciously is called controlled breathing.

Controlled breathing means controlling our own breathing patterns.  It provides a wide range of benefits, such as increased energy, enhanced cellular health, better brain function, healthier organs, and more.

Most of the health benefits of controlled breathing stem from curbing the body’s fight-or-flight response.  “Fight-or-flight” (FoF) mechanism is activated when we are under stress. Our ancestors had to deal with many-a-threat: wild animals, starvation, disease, etc. As we evolved, we became more of “thinking” creatures who use their brain for resource management, attention, and decision making.

Controlled breathing and the ‘Relaxation Response’

The Relaxation Response is a term coined by Harvard professor, and pioneer in Mind-Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Herbert Benson.

It is the opposite of fight-or-flight and when accomplished with controlled breathing, it helps mitigate FoF. In scientific terms, it activates the para-sympathetic (pronounced like ‘parachute’) nervous system or PNS.

Here is how to activate PNS through controlled breathing:

Coherent Breathing (Instructions)
  • Sit upright or lie down
  • Put the hands on your belly
  • Slowly breathe in, expanding the belly, to the count of 5
  • Pause
  • Slowly breathe out to the count of 6
  • Slowly work your way up to 10-20 minutes daily
Core Breathing (Instructions)          
  • Sit up straight
  • Put the hands on your belly
  • As you inhale, lean forward and expand the belly
  • As you exhale, squeeze the breath out, curling forward
  • Repeat 15-20 times
“HA” Technique (Instructions)
  • Stand up straight with the elbows bent at a 90-degree angle and palms up
  • As you inhale, draw the elbows back behind you, keeping your palms up
  • Exhale quickly, thrusting your palms forward and turning them downward; say (or mouth) the word ‘HA!’
  • Repeat 15-20 times