Everyone breathes daily, but if you try this technique you'll fall asleep instantly
The act of breathing is responsible for providing our bodies with the oxygen it needs to survive, and knowing how to breathe properly is paramount to great health. But, changing the way we inhale and exhale can also have some surprising and extremely beneficial outcomes, says Dr. Weil. From curing the hiccups to balancing your body due to stress, controlling your breath is a key component to controlling your body.
Cure The Hiccups
It seems you get the hiccups when you least need them, or even when you least expect it. It can be annoying, as well as interrupt your daily activities. To stop hiccups, exhale all the air from your lungs, then inhale as slowly as possible. Once your lungs are full, hold your breath for as long as you can, then slowly exhale. The process of breathing will stretch your diaphragm to interrupt the hiccups.
Stay Underwater A Few Seconds Longer
Rather than hyperventilating for a few seconds before going underwater to hold your breath longer -which can be incredibly dangerous - breathe slowly (and fully) before taking a plunge. When you hyperventilate, the levels of CO2 decrease and the body's safety mechanism to start breathing again is delayed, which is really dangerous. Instead, take a full breath with your mouth and fill up the lower lung area first, then filling up toward the sternum area. Keep breathing until you've filled up the upper lung area by the top of your chest. This full inhale should take about 20 seconds when done properly. This way, you're using the total volume of your lungs to hold in as much oxygen as possible.
Fall Asleep Instantly
Fall asleep instantly using the 4-7-8 technique, developed by Dr. Weil. First, exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. Then, slowly (and quietly) inhale through your nose to a mental count of four, with your mouth closed. Once you get to four, hold your breath for a count of seven. Next, open your mouth and exhale completely for eight seconds, making the same whoosh sound as you exhale. This counts for one cycle, so you'll repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four cycles. The 4-7-8 technique allows for oxygen to fill the lungs, circulating the entire body, producing a relaxing effect that, according to Dr. Weil, will have you falling asleep within 60 seconds.
Clear Your Sinuses
It's definitely that time of year again when allergy symptoms are at an all-time high. You can clear a stuffy nose, just by breathing. First, get relaxed and breathe at a normal pace. After an exhale, pinch your nose and hold your breath. Gently nod your head up and down for however long you can comfortably hold your breath. Then, start to breathe through the nostril that is less stuffy, keeping your mouth closed.
It's important to keep yourself relaxed, especially through your mid-section and your abdominal muscles. After about 20 to 30 seconds of breathing through one nostril, take a slow and full breath in and out, then repeat the sequence with the breath hold and head nod, and breathe through the other nostril. By controlling your breathing, your body accumulates more CO2 and dilates your airways - meaning clear sinuses in a matter of minutes!
Rid Yourself Of Runner's Cramp
Dr. Tim Noakes suggests a trick for bypassing runner's cramp in his book The Lore Of Running. He recommends runners change their running gate to inhale and exhale when the left foot hits the ground. By changing the gate, Dr. Noakes says that it decreases the chance that the liver - which is the heaviest abdominal organ - is pushed downwards while the diaphragm is still in a high position. Try it the next time you begin your run to bypass your runner's cramp altogether.
Stop A Panic Attack
Panic attacks can be really scary, as many people have the sensation that they can't catch their breath. But, the trick is remembering to exhale, so that you're able to inhale completely. By using this breathing technique, you can begin to overcome the panic attack and breathe normally again.
Start by placing one hand on your stomach and the other on your upper chest, just so you can feel the different areas fill as you breathe. Then, relax your body, open your mouth and let out a soft sigh, but don't exhale completely. Close your mouth, pause and rest for a few seconds. Then, inhale through your nose (keeping your mouth closed) and push your stomach out. Feel your hand that's placed on your stomach rise with your breath. When you've reached a full - and comfortable - stomach of air, just stop. Pause again for a comfortable amount of time, then slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat the steps a few times to give you more control over your breath and stop the symptoms of your panic attack.
Balance Your Body
According to Mercola, stress is one of the largest factors of dysfunctional breathing. To balance your body, you need to balance and control your breath using an ancient technique called the Nadi Shodhana Practice.
First, close your eyes, sit in a relaxed state and place your left hand on your chair or leg. Then, make a peace sign with your right hand and place the two outstretched fingers on the bridge of the nose. With your right thumb, close the right nostril. Inhale slowly - and comfortably - through the left nostril. Then, with your little finger and ring finger, slowly close the left nostril, and release the thumb to open the right nostril. Inhale slowly through your right nostril. Close the right nostril and open the left nostril, exhaling slowly through the left. Repeat these steps a few times, then take a few moments to breathe normally before opening your eyes.
Here is Dr. Weil explaining how to use breathing to help you sleep.
Regulating your breath is a great way to feel better naturally. The act of breathing is so important that in languages such as Sanskrit, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, the words for spirit and breath are the same. Save these tips to breathe easier the next time you need them.