Breathing is an activity that most people consciously don't think about. It is an involuntary process that supplies oxygen to your blood and helps remove toxins and carbon dioxide from your body. Yet many people breathe incorrectly, breathing mainly from the chest area. This inefficient way of breathing can result in a 20 percent decrease in your blood oxygen levels. You can retrain your breathing habits and promote a more effective delivery of oxygen by practicing specific breathing exercises.
The three part breath is an exercise designed to promote conscious breathing and helps completely fill your lungs with nourishing oxygen. Sit in a comfortable chair with your spine straight and your head and neck in line with your spine. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears, hold for a moment, then release all tension. Inhale deeply, focusing on filling the lower part of your belly with air. Pause for a brief moment, then continue inhaling into your rib cage. Pause again, then continue inhaling into your chest. Pause at the end of your inhalation, then exhale in reverse, first emptying the air from your chest, then rib cage, then abdomen. Repeat this pattern of breathing for five minutes.
The bamboo breathing exercise takes its name from the way Chinese and Japanese painters portray the bamboo plant, which grows in segments. This is a complex breathing exercise that can help improve your oxygen levels, help you relax and promote more fuller breathing habits. Start by taking one long inhalation through your nose. Exhale all of the air in one short exhalation from your mouth. Inhale again for two long counts. Exhale all of the air in two short, explosive puffs from your mouth. Continue this pattern until you reach a count of four.
The humming breath is another beneficial exercise you can practice to increase oxygen delivery, deepen your breathing, cleanse your lungs and promote feelings of relaxation. Sit in a comfortable chair with your neck and head aligned with your spine. Relax your shoulders. Inhale through your nose, filling your abdominal area, then chest, with air. Slowly exhale, making a humming sound as you exhale. Continue humming as you squeeze all the last bits of air from your lungs using your abdominal muscles. Repeat this exercise for up to three minutes.
The alternate nostril breathing technique is a type of yogic practice known as pranayama, or breath work. This exercise helps increase your supply of oxygen and promotes more efficient breathing. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. Raise your right hand in front of your nose. Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale deeply through your left nostril. Pause, release your thumb and close your left nostril with your ring finger. Exhale out of your right nostril. Continue this practice for nine breaths, then switch sides.