It’s natural to breathe without thinking about it. It’s just what we do to stay alive. But we can choose to breathe with or without intention, and for many of us, the difference can be startling.

How often are you aware of your breathing? If and when you do zone in on your breath, is it shallow or deep? Are you relaxed or tense? Is your abdomen moving out on your in-breath and in on your out-breath? What muscles are you using when you do this? Is there tension in your chest, neck, shoulders or back?

If you breathe deeply, are you easily able to take a full deep breath through your lungs all the way down to your lower abdomen, before releasing it, in a fluid circular motion? 

By taking the time to tune in and work on your breathing every day, you have the power to improve stress, lift your mood, lower blood pressure, increase lung and heart function, improve overall immunity, manage chronic pain and improve core strength.

Read on to find out how deep breathing can improve these and more.