The Best Breathing Exercises for the Recent Non-Smoker
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First of thank you and congratulations for deciding to stop smoking. I smoked for many years and still consider myself a smoker. I simply don't smoke. A smoker who doesn't smoke! I have yet to "quit." I have, for the time being, simply stopped.
Once I stopped, I looked at ways to increase and repair my lung capacity. Over the years I have found a few great techniques and exercises that help with breathing fully and deeply.
As you proceed through the first few weeks and months of not smoking anymore your lungs will start to repair themselves and get back to normal.
In addition to the lung repair, lets take a quick look at some of the benefits of deep breathing.
Why Deep Breathing
According to The Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis and James Balch, learning to breathe deep and from the diaphragm helps you get more oxygen into the lungs and the bloodstream. We need oxygen for cellular respiration, cell metabolism, and proper brain function. Clearly our brains weren't functioning properly when we started smoking so let's get more o2 in there.
Shallow breathing prevents the body from eliminating all the carbon dioxide and that's not good either.
Deep breathing will help with the following:
- Increase Lung capacity
- Additional Energy
- Relieve Anxiety
- Helps with Insomnia
- Reduces Stress
Not a bad list of benefits at all, wouldn't you agree?
Stand Tall - Hands On Your Belly
Let's try deep diaphragmatic breathing. Start standing tall and straight. Gently place your hands over your belly. Inhale gently and slowly through your nose. Allow the air to fill your lungs using your diaphragm to pull the air deep into your lungs.
Your stomach should expand out as your diaphragm pulls the air in. Slowly exhale through the mouth. And repeat.
Another option is to put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Also, when you exhale, another option is to purse your lips so as to control the flow of air out.
Let me just say that I am not a practitioner of Tai Chi or Qi Gong or anything like that. I have however discovered this style or type of deep breathing and have found it to be incredibly beneficial. Not only for deep breathing, but for relaxation, stress relief, and overall peace of mind and well being.
There's a video over there for you to look at and get an idea of what I'm talking about here, but basically, you want to stand up right, bring your hands up and lace them together palms up and slowly lift them over head. Eventually you'll have to turn your palms skyward as you lift your arms higher. Inhale as you raise your arms up and over. When your arms are up over your head, look up then straight ahead. Stretch and begin to slowly exhale as you move your arms away and out, down and back around creating a circle.
For me, this is the bringing in of positive energy and the exhalation of negativity. I like doing this when I'm feeling stressed out, crapped out, scared, negative, and also after a particularly challenging workout.
I first heard of Japa from Wayne Dyer in The Power of Intention . Wayne also wrote a book on it called Getting in the Gap .
There is a whole spiritual aspect to this style of meditation that is for an entirely different Hub. I'm not much of a meditative person. Quieting this racing cranium might be just too much to ask. But I do give it a go a couple times a week anyway.
For the purpose of this exercise, the most important thing to focus on is the breath. Japa has you inhaling through the nose, bringing in positive energy and while releasing the negative you make an "AH" sound.
Some may suggest an "OM" sound instead. I find that "ah" is more accessible for me. You can use which ever you want. Use the one that is most comfortable for you.
What's nice about this is you can do it in the car, the shower, while washing dishes or sitting at your desk. If you want to make a ritual out of it, you can. If you want to just breathe and breathe deep, you can do that too.
One aspect or idea you can try is, while exhaling, in vision your lung capacity improving, see yourself running along the beach or hiking up a steep hill with no problem. Actively ask your body (and/or God, if you're religious) to restore you to the perfection you are and from which you came.
I'm not to get too spiritual on you here, but it's hard...
Japa is a great way to clear your head, refresh your body and energize the soul.
Waiting to Exhale - Conclusion
So hopefully you'll have a few things other than smoke and cigarettes to suck on now!
Feel free to ask a question or two and join in the conversation by leaving a comment below!