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The Benefits of Intentional Breathing


Intentional breathing, also known as breath work or pranayama, is a practice that involves controlling the breath to achieve a variety of physical and mental benefits. It has been used for centuries in yoga, meditation, and other traditional healing practices. In recent years, there has been growing scientific evidence to support the many potential benefits of intentional breathing. Physiological Effects of Intentional Breathing

  1. Activation of the Parasympathetic Nervous System: Intentional breathing can help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the "rest and digest" system. This system is responsible for slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and promoting relaxation. When the parasympathetic nervous system is active, the body is able to recover from stress and repair itself.

  2. Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Intentional breathing can help to reduce stress and anxiety by calming the mind and body. This is because it can help to lower cortisol levels, the stress hormone, and increase the production of endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.

  3. Improved Heart Rate Variability (HRV): HRV is a measure of how much the heart rate varies from beat to beat. A higher HRV is generally associated with better health and resilience to stress. Intentional breathing has been shown to improve HRV, which may be one of the reasons why it is effective for reducing stress and anxiety.

  4. Increased Lung Function: Intentional breathing can help to improve lung function by increasing the amount of air that can be taken in and out of the lungs. This can be helpful for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

  5. Reduced Pain: Intentional breathing can help to reduce pain by distracting the mind from pain signals and by promoting relaxation. It has been shown to be effective for pain management in a variety of conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, and post-surgical pain

Mental Effects of Intentional Breathing

  1. Improved Focus and Concentration: Intentional breathing can help to improve focus and concentration by bringing the mind into the present moment and reducing distractions. It can be helpful for students, athletes, and anyone who needs to focus for long periods of time.

  2. Increased Mindfulness: Intentional breathing is a form of mindfulness, which is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and it can also improve overall well-being.

  3. Enhanced Self-Awareness: Intentional breathing can help to increase self-awareness by bringing attention to the physical and emotional sensations in the body. This can help to identify patterns of stress, anxiety, and other emotions, and it can also help to develop a better understanding of oneself.

  4. Reduced Emotional Reactivity: Intentional breathing can help to reduce emotional reactivity by providing a way to calm the mind and body when feeling overwhelmed by emotions. This can be helpful for managing anger, anxiety, and other difficult emotions.



Breathing Exercises

  • Diaphragmatic breathing: This is a type of deep breathing that engages the diaphragm, the main muscle of respiration. Diaphragmatic breathing can help to improve lung function, reduce stress, and anxiety.

  • Pursed-lip breathing: This is a type of breathing that is used to slow down the rate of breathing and make it easier to exhale. Pursed-lip breathing can be helpful for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

  • Box breathing: This is a type of breathing that involves inhaling for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four, and holding the breath for a count of four. Box breathing can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and improve focus.

  • Alternate nostril breathing: This is a type of breathing that involves inhaling through one nostril, exhaling through the other nostril, and then inhaling through the other nostril. Alternate nostril breathing can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and improve sleep quality.

  • 4-7-8 breathing: This is a type of breathing that involves inhaling for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of seven, and exhaling for a count of eight. 4-7-8 breathing can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and improve sleep quality.

  • Lion's breath: This is a type of breathing that involves inhaling deeply through the nose, exhaling forcefully through the mouth while making a loud "ha" sound, and sticking out the tongue. Lion's breath can help to relieve stress, anxiety, and improve energy levels.

  • Mindfulness breathing: This is a type of breathing that involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness breathing can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and improve focus.

  • Cardiac coherence breathing: This is a type of breathing that involves inhaling for five counts, holding the breath for five counts, and exhaling for five counts. Cardiac coherence breathing can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and improve heart rate variability.


Intentional breathing is a simple and yet powerful practice that can have a variety of benefits for both physical and mental health. It is a safe and accessible practice that can be done anywhere, anytime. If you are looking for a way to improve your health and well-being, I encourage you to give intentional breathing a try. If you are looking for an instructor to help you deepen your practice, LLVG offers breathing and meditation sessions online and in-person. To book, contact @llvgwellness on Instagram or email at llvghealth@gmail.com.


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