For Stress Relief
In a matter of minutes diaphragmatic breathing lowers your blood pressure, heart rate, and helps calm you down for instant stress relief.
By just learning how to relax and breathe properly you can gain astonishing benefits that are essential to a healthy life.
Infants and small children do abdominal breathing naturally. However, most grown-ups develop the bad habit of holding their stomach in and expanding the chest when they breathe.
Diaphragmatic breathing is the very opposite…
Watch the model of a sleeping baby… it’s a kind of belly breathing that is slow, deep, and smooth.
Shallow breathing hinders the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood of your lungs’ lower lobes. The imbalance dramatically stresses the efficiency of the respiratory system. Lack of oxygen circulating in the blood deprives you of energy.
Is it any wonder you feel tired and sluggish?
Furthermore… mental stress, anxiety, fear, intense excitement or anger… any one of these kinds of emotions can initiate upper chest breathing, exposing yourself to constant arousal of the
fight or flight
The more rapid and stressed the breath becomes, the greater risk to overbreathe and hyperventilate. Oxygen may be plentiful… but it can’t be properly used! Forcing carbon dioxide out of the lungs too quickly creates an imbalance that for some can cycle into a full-blown panic attack!
Diaphragmatic breathing exercises can quickly calm the distress to help bring you back to a relaxed state. Any unnecessary tension in your mind or body is relinquished upon exhaling.
These are powerful breathing and relaxation techniques that allow you to take conscious control over your nervous system.
It’s true… quieting and slowing your breath turns on what is known as the
from the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system.
A sense of peace and well-being might be your goal whether you specifically regulate breathing for stress relief or not. Diaphragmatic breathing has long been a customary ritual in preparing the mind for meditation.
It’s the basis for a yogic breathing exercise referred to as, ‘the complete breath’ or ‘three part breath’. Similar yoga breathing or prana breathing methods are practiced in many different
types of meditation.
The actual up and down movement of the diaphragm muscle applies stimulating massage to the internal organs below. It eases work of the heart and lungs, plus tones and strengthens the body’s core muscles. Diaphragm breathing also assists the lymph fluids and digestive system.
More doctors are now recommending to their patients meditative breathing techniques for stress. Breathing deeply invariably improves physical, emotional and mental conditions, prevents disease and is a powerful form of self-healing.
Relaxation breathing techniques also increase the production of endorphins that act in reducing the level of pain.
To Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing
Beginners may find it easier lying on their back with a pillow under the knees for support. After a little practice, try a sitting position.
Keep your spine straight.
Lightly place one hand over the stomach area just below the rib cage and the other hand over the upper chest. (This helps in feeling any movement).
Relax… and focus on the rhythm of your breath.
Count with an equal number of beats to inhale and exhale if it helps. For some, lengthening the time span for exhaling is more calming for total relaxation. Also, it helps prevent hyperventilation. If you experience any dizziness, nausea, etc.—you may be trying too hard. Take a more passive role.
Proper deep breathing doesn’t ever force air into the lungs or strain going out. Never try to breathe beyond your capacity. Just breathe easy and rhythmically using the ever-slightest pressure to move the diaphragm downward and expand the abdomen.
INHALE through the nostrils. The abdominal area rises and the lower rib cage expands as the lungs fill with air—the upper chest should remain basically motionless.
EXHALE through the nose slowly and evenly, allowing your lungs to completely empty. Finish the breath by gently contracting the abdomen and expel the last bit of stale air… pause… and wait for the spontaneous draw of air that follows.
You may want to start out doing 2 or 3 repetitions once or twice per day and slowly build up your capacity depending on your ability or specific need.
A good daily maintenance routine would consist of 6 to 10 repetitions, 2 to 3 times per day.
You’ll soon want to rely on diaphragmatic breathing as a comprehensive restorative breathing therapy. Its natural relaxation breathing rhythm will impact all the principal functions of your body.
Best of all, anyone can do it… just like a baby.
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