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Your girlfriends may well laugh when you tell them you are improving your skin by breathing, but the idea has merit. Deep-breathing exercises are known to calm both mind and body. A calmer you means feeling less stressed, and stress can certainly affect our skin. Deep breathing also increases the amount of oxygen and energy available to our bodies. So let your friends laugh -- and keep buying expensive beauty products -- while you breathe your way to a better complexion.
Because you have been breathing since the day you were born and you’re not turning blue, you probably assume that you are doing a pretty good job of it. In truth, however, our breathing is usually far shallower than it should be, and it is common to unknowingly hold our breath when frightened or tense. To learn to breathe properly, lie on your back. Place you right hand on your abdomen and your left hand over your heart. As you breathe slowly and deeply through your nose, your right hand should rise and fall along with your diaphragm. Your left hand should remain stationary. This movement you feel here is the proper technique and should be the same movement you feel when doing any deep-breathing exercise.
According to Tai Chi instructor Geoff at HighSpirit.com, “the dynamics between the in-breath and out-breath are considered to be especially effective in preserving young skin.” This makes the dragon breath exercise an important one for improving skin. To perform this exercise, sit up straight and slowly inhale. Before exhaling, make it a point to relax all of the muscles in your body. Then draw another sharp, short inhalation, and then exhale while continuing to focus on being relaxed. Take a normal breath, inhaling once and exhaling, before repeating the dragon breath. Geoff recommends this exercise be done twice every day for five minutes at a time.
The 4-7-8 is a very relaxing exercise that can be done anywhere at anytime. This means that you can use the technique when specifically practicing your breathing exercises, or at any point throughout the day when you need to resist the urge to harm an annoying coworker, rude client or misbehaving child. Each step of this exercise is done with the tongue resting just behind the top teeth. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose while mentally counting to 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7 before opening your mouth and exhaling through it for a count of 8. If you are not in public, feel free to make a “whoosh” sound as you inhale. Repeat this breath three times, as the exercise should be done in sets of 4. This exercise can be tricky at first, but gets easier with practice.
The Bellows Breath
While relaxation is a wonderful thing, sometimes you may find yourself in need of a jump start. The bellows breath is a very simple exercise in which you inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose. The goal is to take 3 to 4 breaths every second, which works the diaphragm much like a set of bellows. Take a normal breath after each set of 4 bellows breaths. This exercise should only be done for about 15 seconds the first time. You can increase your time by adding 5-second intervals as you become more comfortable with the exercise, but the bellows breath technique should never be used for more than a minute at a time. This exercise is a noisy one, so it is probably best to avoid trying it in the library or during a boring office meeting.