Intentional breathing practices have been around for millennia, but Western medicine has taken notice of their potential benefits only recently. This great primer on breath work covers the numerous ways it can improve wellbeing and reduce stress and anxiety. It also shows you some easy, no-fault ways to get started.
There’s a reason that sighs and relaxation go together—a deep breath floods the body with oxygen and releases large amounts of carbon dioxide: breath is the bellows of the human organism, literally powering life. For most of us, breathing goes on quite unexamined. But for others it’s an activity to practice consciously, and one that yields a great number of health benefits as a result.
These “intentional breathers” include practitioners of yoga, meditation, and other disciplines in which breath plays a foundational role. They’re no strangers to the help that conscious breathing can provide for everything from asthma to PTSD, insomnia, hypertension, and yes, substance use disorder. Clinical research is still playing catch-up, but the data to back up these links is accumulating.
While the many forms of intentional breathing can be honed for a lifetime, you can get going with just a few pointers such as those covered in this article. You can’t do any harm, and there’s every chance you’ll do yourself some good as well. At the most basic level, it feels good.
Take it from a one-time skeptic: attention to breathing is easy, pleasant, and beneficial. This is a great place to start.