I think it is safe to assume that most of us feel as though we can breath. Unless you have a medical condition, breathing is done mostly without effort.  It is something that we do everyday, all day long so of course we know how… right? Wrong! I am here to tell you that our breathing techniques are inadequate. Of course, it is enough to keep us alive, but is our technique promoting the relaxing benefits that appropriate breathing can bring? Only you know.

Since none of us can avoid all stress, it becomes important to learn different ways to facilitate as much relaxation as we possibly can. Breathing for relaxation not only has the calming physical effects of slowing down your heart rate and increasing blood flow to your brain, relaxation breathing also increases energy and focus, boost motivation and ultimately productivity. You can reap all of these benefits with regular practice. Lets learn how!

Set aside time in your daily schedule. If possible, schedule a set time either once or twice a day for your practice. You may find that it’s easier to stick with your practice if you do it first thing in the morning, before other tasks and responsibilities get in the way.

Don’t practice when you’re sleepy. These techniques are so relaxing that they can make you very sleepy. However, you will get the most benefit if you practice when you’re fully awake and alert.

Expect ups and downs. Don’t be discouraged if you skip a few days or even a few weeks. It happens. Just get started again and slowly build up to your old momentum.

If you feel like your schedule is already too packed for anything else, remember that many relaxation techniques can be practiced while you’re doing other things.

  • Deep breathing while commuting to work on a bus or train, for example, or waiting for an appointment.
  • Try deep breathing during your break at work or when you’re winding down for bed.
  • Take a breathing break in your office or in the park at lunchtime.
  • Practice mindful deep breathing walking while out with your dog, walking to your car, or taking a neighborhood stroll.

Now that we know when to breath, lets talk about how to breath

  • Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. (This is only until you learn how to properly perform the deep breathes)
  • Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little. (Breaths should be slow, try counting AT LEAST to 3.)
  • Hold breath and count to AT LEAST 2
  • Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little. (Again, breaths should be slow, try counting AT LEAST to 4.)
  • Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.

If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting up or walking, try lying on the floor. Put a small book on your stomach, and try to breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale. Breathing techniques can be practiced almost anywhere and can be combined with other relaxation exercises, such as aromatherapy and music. All you need is you! Do everything you can do to combat stress.