How breathing exercises help you relax
A consistent factor amongst the breathing techniques in the studies cited above is that they all encourage diaphragmatic breathing. Often referred to as “belly breathing”, diaphragmatic breathing allows the lower belly to expand and contract with each cycle of breath. As we all know, allowing full expansion of the stomach is habitually avoided in today’s society.
However, when the abdomen is able to relax and expand fully on the in-breath, the lowest part of the lungs can be filled with oxygenated air. Without this full inhalation, you may be left feeling anxious and short of breath. Likewise, when the abdomen can contract inwards fully with the out-breath, the carbon dioxide is completely exhaled from the lungs, and breathing slows down.
This slower, more relaxed way of breathing results in a more peaceful body and state of mind. Thus, slowing down your breathing with deep breathing exercises can help you, whether you’re preparing to give an important presentation or want to fall asleep more quickly.
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Deep Breathing Exercises
- Take a Break – This simple daytime breathing technique is perfect for waking up or taking a reinvigorating midday breather. Inhale for five counts to the sound of a gentle stream and exhale for seven counts to the sound of OM.
- Clear Your Mind – This daytime breathing exercise incorporates some gentle breath retention. Inhale to 4 with the sounds of a soft breeze, hold for 4 to the quiet hum of a singing bowl, then exhale for 4 to soothing water, and hold for 4 to the singing bowl.
- De-Stress – This nighttime deep breathing technique is the perfect way to transition from daytime to evening mode. Inhale to 4 with sweet nature sounds, hold for 7 with the eternal hum of deep space, and exhale to 8 with a gentle water sound.
- Fall Asleep – Imagine you’re in the great outdoors with this simple nighttime breathing exercise. Inhale to 4 with the sound of a crackling campfire, exhale for 8 with soothing water. Repeat as you drift off to sleep.
Beginners and experienced deep breathing practitioners can benefit from these techniques, morning, midday, and night.