Written by Megha More – CO-Founder & COO & Medically Reviewed by Dr. Shunmukha Priya. S– Post graduate in Food Science and Nutrition
Would you like to know the number one thing that is never related to weight loss, and yet is super important?
Today, I am going to talk about one of the fundamental sources of energy – breathing. It is through breathing that our body takes in the life-giving oxygen and releases the toxic carbon dioxide.
An average individual takes about 12-20 breaths per minute while at rest. Exercise, stress, walking, working hastily, talking, thinking – all increase the number of breaths per minute. So we are looking at around 30,000 breaths in a day. That’s a massive amount of involuntary activity that can actually be made semi-voluntary by a little practice.
At any given moment (while you are awake), you are always thinking of something. Your body might be stationary but your mind is forever active.
What should I eat for breakfast, have the kids done their homework, will that dress fit me, I forgot to reply to that email, hope the meeting goes well, why is there so much traffic, why can’t my cab come on time, etc. When does it get to pause? Does it need to pause?
Of course, it does need to pause! Imagine how fatigued your body would be if it doesn’t rest for a single minute during the 12-14 hours that you are awake, day after day, month after month, years at a stretch.
Your mind is being subjected to the same fatigue unless you consciously take a pause. And how do we consciously take a pause? By practising deep breathing!
Breathe in and breathe out. Concentrate on your breath. Make it deeper. Be in the present and only focus on the breath.
The stress that we are holding is one of the biggest contributors to weight gain and deep breathing can help alleviate stress.
If I ask you to stop thinking, you won’t. Not because you don’t want to, but because you don’t know how to stop thinking. This is where deep breathing comes to your rescue.
When you concentrate on your breathing, you don’t have to try to fight your thoughts and try to keep your mind calm. Let the thoughts come and they will go away just as quickly because your mind is concentrating on the movement of breath.
Make this involuntary movement a voluntary movement. Make the breaths deeper and deeper. Open your lungs and stretch out your arms if necessary.
Your stomach should expand with every inhale. And shrink back with every exhale. This is called diaphragmatic breathing. It’s very important to take the full benefit of each breath. So, practice diaphragmatic breathing.
Benefits of deep breathing
There are multiple benefits of deep breathing besides relaxing the mind and de-stressing:
- Deep breathing allows more fresh oxygen in the blood flow and also eases the pressure on your heart that keeps pumping and purifying the blood.
- The deeper you breathe, the more alkalizing is the effect on our body. When you take shallow breaths you end up keeping some carbon dioxide inside the system that has an acidic effect. Taking one deep breath before each bite you eat will help immensely in improving your gut health.
- Deep breathing is also a natural pain reliever as it triggers the release of endorphins that help in combating pain and in feeling good.
- Also, do you know how fat actually leaves your body? Fat molecules are broken down into carbon dioxide and water. So fat is actually removed through the air you breathe out! And through the water, you discharge via urine and sweat. 
Here is a simple technique that I think you can start with. I call it 5-5-5-5 deep breaths, 5 times a day, holding for 5 counts.
You should start with very simple routines and follow that with discipline. Feel free to follow any school of yoga or any spiritual guru.
Take out 5-10 minutes from your day, preferably early in the morning. It will not replace your current exercise schedule. It should be done after the exercise, after you have cooled down or as part of the cooling down.
If you can’t do it in the morning, then do it anytime during the day. It could be in your office or home or even while sitting in the car.
Gradually increase this to 30 minutes per day. These 30 minutes will help you stay calmer, more relaxed and more focused during the remaining part of the day. It will also help you sleep better and control your reactions to situations out of your control!
So folks, breathe! Breathe deep! Not just to kick-out stress and keep your mind relaxed, but for overall wellness, especially in the long run.