Relaxation 101: the benefits of deep breathing

19 November, 2011

 

deep breathing

deep breathing exercize

“I breathe slowly and deeply. I make my eyes still under eyelids, I make my mind still, and soon, Sleep, seeing a perfect reproduction of himself, comes to be united with his facsimile”.   Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife)

Yesterday, I talked about the various different techniques for relaxing both our bodies and our minds in order to get us into a relaxed state for sleep.

This Deep Breathing Exercise (also known as Diaphragmatic Breathing or Belly Breathing) is used in yoga and is one of my favorites.

The trick to this form of breathing is to inhale while extending your tummy rather than your chest. It is the foundation for yoga breathing and is a great way to reduce anxiety as well as to relax.

  1. Find a quiet place to perform the exercise. It should be warm, free from distractions such as TV or music, and somewhere where you know you won’t be disturbed
  2. Make yourself comfortable, loosening or removing your clothes
  3. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest
  4. You may find it useful to focus on a fixed point such as the flame of a candle, or close your eyes
  5. Slowly inhale through your nose. It helps if you position your tongue against the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth. If your nose is blocked or this is uncomfortable, breathe deeply through pursed lips to slow down the intake of breath
  6. Aim to keep your shoulders, upper chest and abdomen still. The hand on your chest should hardly move
  7. As you inhale, feel your belly expanding
  8. Slowly exhale again through pursed lips
  9. Repeat. Allow your breath to flow continuously, with no pause allowed between the breaths, either between inhalation and exhalation, or between exhalation and inhalation
  10. Bring your awareness to the breath at the bridge of your nose and empty your mind of any thoughts. If you feel a thought entering your mind, just gently be aware of it, let it go and bring your attention back to your breath.

Remember, take it slowly. The object is to relax. No pressure. Breathe smoothly, allowing no jerkiness or irregularities to disturb the steady flow. Do not strain or starve yourself of breath. Continue practicing for as long as is comfortable. You should feel the beneficial effects after five or ten minutes.

 

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