Breathing is a natural function that the body performs without much help from us, however, we can effect our breathing so that proper breathing becomes the basis for good stress management and good relaxation techniques. The slower we breathe, the more relaxed we are. Practice these breathing tips each morning before rising, and each evening upon retiring, and anytime during the day when you want to take a “peace” break. Use proper breathing techniques to help control your stress response before it escalates into an anxiety episode or any time you want to feel calmer, more centered and more relaxed. Eventually, you will be able to use these techniques any time you need to relax, step back, let go, and just breathe and calm yourself. It’s a tool that’s available to everyone all the time. Even kids can learn these techniques - a powerful relaxation tool to teach kids.
Breathing happens from your diaphragm, not your lungs. The lungs filer oxygen. The diaphragm breathes oxygen. The diaphragm is located just below the “V” at the bottom of your rib cage and sort of sits on top of your stomach. The diaphragm is a disc or Frisbee shaped instrument.
As you inhale, inflate or expand the diaphragm as if it were a balloon you were filling up with air. As you exhale, release, deflate or contract the diaphragm allowing the air to leave. Remember, inflate on the inhale. Deflate on the exhale. Keep your breathing restricted to the diaphragm and abdomen; don’t breathe from your chest/lungs. Breathing from the lungs rapidly can cause hyper-ventilation.
Practice by lying down on your back and placing a small book on your diaphragm. As you inhale, the book should rise. As you exhale, the book should fall. It will become more natural as you practice.
As you practice diaphragmatic breathing, the elasticity in your diaphragm will continue to improve and soon you’ll be able to breathe longer and stronger. Ultimately, emphasis should be on the exhale which should be twice as long as your inhale for good relaxation breathing. Author and teacher, Dan Millman, says that if you can spend one minute on one breath, you're a master. A few long, deep, diaphragmatic breathes will immediately relax you. Feeling calmer, clearer and more composed is just a few breaths away.