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Breathing is one of the most natural and healthful functions of the body. The inhalation of oxygen creates the beginning of an exchange as the gas moves into the millions of alveoli in the lungs, then on to the blood in the surrounding capillaries where it moves carbon dioxide from the blood to the alveoli. Breathing is, in most case, automatic. The brain and small sensory organs signal when oxygen levels are too low or carbon dioxide levels are too high. In response to this signal, the brain increases the speed and depth of breathing.

Deep breathing exercises have been used for years as a way of relaxing the body. Anyone who has ever noticed how an infant's abdomen rises and falls with each breath has experienced the art of proper deep breathing. Most adults today tend to fill only the upper chest when they breathe and thus miss how the increased oxygen intake relieves tension and improves mental alertness. By employing some of the more popular deep breathing exercises listed below you can strengthen the lungs, relieve bronchitis, improve circulation, oxygenate the blood and minimize the reoccurrence of respiratory ailments.

Lying face down, slowly raise your head and upper torso using hands flat against the floor. Continue to rise slowly until you are looking at the ceiling and do not allow your body to sag. As you rise, breathe in deeply through your nose, then release the breath through your teeth as you lower your body back to the floor. Begin by doing this exercise five times daily and work upward.

Before you rise in the morning, lie on your back and take five slow deep breaths. Breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Be aware of your abdomen and make sure your are inhaling sufficient oxygen to raise this area. Rest for a moment when you are finished. This exercise will increase your energy by oxygenating the blood.

Another wonderful deep breathing exercise to relieve stress can be done in any location. Sitting straight in a chair, place one hand on your abdomen and breathe in deeply through your nose counting to ten. Hold the breath for a count of five and then release slowly through your mouth to a count of ten. While you are holding the breath, focus on your abdomen to ensure it is extended as far as you can comfortably extend it. It is good to start with five of these exercises, but even two will have an immediate affect.

For panic attacks take five to ten slow, deep breathes in through your nose and release through your mouth. This will allow you to gain control of your body and relax the body's arousal. To relieve hiccups exhale slowly into a paper bag and then slowly inhale. This exercise should be done at least five times. The carbon dioxide you are re-breathing plays an important role in curing hiccups. Breathe through your nose to relieve a dry mouth.