4 Essential Deep Breathing Tips

Deep Breathing

This story was originally posted in the Los Angeles Times.

Jorge Cruise has written 32 books about carbs, calories and how to blast belly fat. But for his latest, “The 3 Choices,” he’s focusing on the “inner, rather than outer, transformation.”

Here are his four essential deep breathing tips:

4-7-8 breathing: Proponents say this technique, also known as “diaphragmatic breathing,” can help lower blood pressure, sharpen the memory and reduce stress if practiced regularly. Here’s how to do it: Inhale through the nose for a count of four, and concentrate on pushing the air into the belly instead of the chest. Hold the breath for seven seconds. Exhale slowly through the mouth for a count of eight. Repeat for a couple of minutes, to start.

“It’s the most foundational way to oxygenate the body,” Cruise said.

Bypass the wine, junk food and TV: When stress has you reaching for a crutch — a drink, a sugary treat or the remote — sit up straight and breathe until the cravings pass, Cruise said.

“There is nothing beneficial about drinking alcohol, even if people do it to relax. If we don’t take a minute to breathe, the temptation is to have a drink, or just lay down on the couch and watch TV,” he says.

Set your alarm: Every hour, get up from your desk, walk around, have a drink of water and take a couple of minutes to get in some deep breathing.

“It’s a centering tool,” Cruise said.

Use technology: Yes, there are apps for this. Cruise recommends Breathe, installed by default in the Apple Watch OS 3; users are prompted to focus on deep breathing for a minute every four hours. Others to try: Calm and Breathing Zone.