Relaxing With Your Breath
Taking a couple of nice, deep breaths can really help eliminate some of the tension we hold in our bodies. On top of that, learning how to breathe slower and deeper all day long, without concentrating on it, is a great way to keep bodily tension from building up. The simplest way to start breathing deeper and slower is to just take a couple of minutes, a couple of times a day, to consciously relax your breathing.
Just notice if you seem to be breathing too quickly and too shallowly, and consciously relax until you are breathing and deeply and as slowly as you comfortably can. This is a great way to start being conscious of your breath, but there are other ways to train your body that are even more effective.
One method is called Belly Breathing. While most people can slow down their breathing pretty easily, it helps to have some more involved directions and a little visual aid to help really master the basics. Belly Breathing helps by making you really visualize the way air moves, enters and expands within your body when you are breathing properly. To Belly Breathe, just follow these simple instructions:
-First, think about your stomach, concentrate on it, but visualize it as a small balloon about the size of your fist. Imagine this balloon sits just under your belly button, and that the lips of the deflated balloon are wrapped around the inside of your belly button.
-Next, begin to inhale through your nose. As you inhale slowly through your nose, imagine that you are actually inhaling through your belly button, directly into the balloon, inflating it. Remember that this is a small balloon, so make sure you don’t over-inflate it.
-Now, as you exhale slowly through your nose, visualize that the air is actually leaving through your belly button, and your balloon slowly returns to being deflated.
-Pause momentarily, and then repeat the breathing and visualization exercise. Make sure your breath is smooth and slow and gentle, comfortably inflating the balloon to a proper size; not too large and not too small.
Now, this is a good exercise to practice for a few minutes a few times a day, and you’ll start to notice that your normal, unconscious minute-to-minute will improve. And as your breathe improves, you should find your body feeling more and more relaxed, holding less and less tension. However, when times get really stressful, you might find yourself reverting back to your old habits. When stress takes over, try the following exercises to relax your body and return to a healthy mode of breathing.
When you first feel stress coming on, or notice that you are breathing faster and more shallow, take a long, slow breath. Keep inhaling as you feel this breathe very deep within your diaphragm, filling yourself totally with air. When you are almost too full, hold the breathe for a few seconds.
Now, slowly relax through your lips (slightly parted) and release all the air out of your body until you have none left. Breathe normally a couple of times, and then repeat the deep inhale, breathe hold, deep exhale pattern. This type of breathing practically forces you to relax your body, no matter what’s going on around you.