by: Juli Heath, Yoga Instructor RYT-230
Stress Relief with This Easy Breath Technique!
We’ve been doing this easy breath technique our whole life. Think about it…The first thing we do when we’re born is inhale. The last thing we do as a human being is exhale. In between the first inhale and the last exhale are countless breaths; each one keeping us alive… and yet we take our breath for granted.
Breathing is a function of both the central and autonomic nervous system. It is both conscious and unconscious. It is the only life process in our body that is controlled through both systems.
Ineffective breathing is quite common in our society, compounded by poor posture and long periods of sitting (driving etc). When we breathe in a shallow way, the air tends to enter only the chest area and does not provide the optimal level of oxygen to the body.
Learning to breathe deeply increases the oxygen supply to our body, and in turn can help to decrease stress and anxiety.
There is an easy breath technique anyone can use to learn to breathe deeply. This is how you do it:
- Sit up straight and tall. Place one hand on your navel, the other on your chest. Notice your breath. Notice which hand(s) is moving the most; the one on your chest, or the one on your belly.
- Now deepen your breath a little. Inhale through your nose and draw the breath all the way down to your navel by expanding your belly; done properly your hand will rise. Once the belly is full, let the remainder of the inhale fill your chest- causing the other hand to rise slightly.
- Then exhale from the top down. The hand on your chest lowers first, then the hand on your belly lowers as the belly moves back toward the spine.
If this is difficult for you, simply place a hand on your navel and focus on belly breathing. Inhale to expand the belly. Exhale draw the belly to the spine. Be careful to never force the breath or breathe too deeply. If you’d like to create a sense of calm, see if you can extend the exhale a little bit longer than the inhale. Perhaps inhaling to a count of 4 and exhaling to a count of 6.
If you have the pleasure of being around sleeping babies or small children, notice how they breathe. Yep! Belly breathing. We do it naturally as children. We unlearn it as we grow.
And now, return your breath to the body and let it do what it naturally does …keep you alive!