Breathing correctly can help you build immunity and get better skin. Here’s how

Ask any celebrity, and they’ll chalk their health, beauty and fitness up to drinking water, eating clean, exercising and focusing on breathwork. The latter is a broad term for the different types of breathing techniques available that help to reduce stress and calm the mind. The healing modality is being touted as a cure-all, and since all it requires is a few minutes of mindfulness to practice, is the easiest thing to add to your self-care routine right now.

What is breathwork?

The process of breathing helps to get oxygen to your lungs, where this oxygen is then assimilated into the blood stream. However, the simple process of taking oxygen in and exhaling carbon-dioxide out is just the tip of the iceberg. The act of breathing is intimately connected to our nervous system. “The nervous system is broadly composed of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS is responsible for our fight-or-flight reaction, which is what is active when we are rushing against danger, deadlines or stress,” explains Pragya Bhatt, Bengaluru-based yoga teacher. “Today, most of us are always in a high-stress mode, and the PNS is dormant,” she says.

Unfortunately, most of us do not breathe from our core. “Instead we opt for shallow breathing using our chest muscles,” says Arouba Kabir, a Gurgaon-based mental health professional. Continuing to breath this way is shown to be related to lower amounts of lymphocytes, which reduces overall immunity. It can also turn into panic attacks and fatigue due to stress, as well as respiratory and cardiovascular issues. While deep breathing can have wonderful benefits on your health, if you have any pre-existing conditions or are feeling acute symptoms of mental or physical distress, it’s best to seek a consultation with your doctor immediately.

Here are the benefits of deep, diaphragmatic breathing

1. It helps clear the lungs

“Breathing comes naturally to humans but the art of breathing goes beyond that. Mindful breathing and certain techniques increase the elasticity of the lungs and the regeneration of cilia, which are the superfine hair-like structures that clear the lungs,” says meditative dance healer, Sumisha Shankar.

2. Deep breathing helps reduce stress

“Elongating the breath gives the mind something to focus on other than the problem at hand, and this is where we see pranayama and breath control helping in managing long term physical problems such as asthma and panic attacks,” explains Bhatt. “When we breathe consciously and deeply, we stimulate the vagus nerve, which brings the heart rate returns to normal, bringing the blood pressure back to normal, which in turn relaxes the nerves.

Deep breathing exercises can be used to regulate blood pressure. “Repeated deep breaths also leads to a release of endorphins, which are chemicals that have a natural calming effect,” says Kabir.

3. It helps you work through physical pain

Interestingly enough, focusing on exhalations is more effective than inhalations. “I notice that when we perform a challenging physical activity (like holding a plank or doing sit-ups) many will hold their breaths,” says Bhatt. This makes it harder to work on the movement. Learning to breathe properly during exercise can help prevent dizziness, and prevent lactic acid buildup from the muscles, which helps to eliminate carbon dioxide more effectively.

4. It has glow-boosting benefits

Shallow breathing can result in a quicker ageing process. “Our body is made up of trillions of cells and every cell contains thousands of strands of mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondria turns our food into energy and also produces oxygen free radicals. In absence of proper oxygenation of each cell, the mitochondria is not able to provide enough energy to the cells to regenerate,” says Shankar. Deep breathing by way of reducing stress can reduce inflammation in the body, as well as improve lymphatic drainage, which all shows as luminous, de-puffed skin.

The article was first published in Vogue


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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