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What are some common deep breathing exercises?

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Quick Answer

Stress management experts recommend a variety of deep breathing exercises for general well-being, including equal breathing, abdominal breathing and progressive relaxation breathing. The level of difficulty for each of these is generally regarded as beginner.

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Full Answer

Equal breathing, or Sama Vritti in yoga terms, consists of inhaling through the nose to the count of four and then exhaling to the count of four. This exercise, which is helpful for people preparing to get a good night's sleep, is suitable for beginners. A more advanced version involves inhaling and exhaling to six or eight counts.

Abdominal breathing is done by placing one hand on the belly and another on the chest and then breathing deeply through the nose, making sure the diaphragm, rather than the chest, inflates. Performing this beginner's exercise for a total of six to 10 slow, deep breaths per minute for 10 minutes daily helps to reduce blood pressure and heart rate immediately. Over time, the health benefits continue for hours after the exercise is performed.

Progressive relaxation relieves tension throughout the entire body. It is performed by closing the eyes and concentrating on tensing and then relaxing each muscle group, usually from feet to head, for two to three seconds each. Throughout the exercise, it is important to maintain slow, deep breathing.

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