There are reasons that breathing techniques can help you relax. Breathing, when done properly, bypasses your intellect and directs your nervous system to switch off the flight or fight mode of hyper-vigilance. This is something that you can’t do by thinking better thoughts or trying to be positive. Good breathing techniques allow you to work directly with your body to reset your nervous system, change your brain wave patterns, and return you organs and cells to a restorative process. This helps with digestion, your immune system and other healthy processes in your body.
There are several keys to breathing to relax your whole body. When put together it will be simple, but be sure to include as many as you can. Here is a short list. More details are explained in the audio podcast.
- Focus your attention in your torso area. The heart area is the best, but the diaphragm where you will be moving most of the air is also helpful. They aren’t that far apart so you can have your awareness on both
- Make your breath consistent. Find a relaxing pace and count the rhythm of the inhale and exhale. Breathe according to that rhythm. Making your breath cycle consistent is the most important factor. It reduces your heart rate variability which then changes your brain waves from beta to a more relaxing alpha.
- Breathe down into your lower belly using your diaphragm.
- Breathe through your nose as much as possible.
- Close your eyes if you have that option. If you are driving, in a meeting, or around people you can do the breathing with eyes open.
- Once your breathing rhythm has been consistent for a while, you may find it easy to lengthen the count of the inhale and exhale. Do this if it is easy and comfortable. Then be consistent with your breath in the new rhythm.
- When your attention drifts off, simply bring it back to your heart/diaphragm area and continue the rhythm. Let pass any need to address what the mind offers. Don’t follow up on a thought, or “fix” anything during this time. This is a practice of letting that other stuff go for now.
- Notice any subtle changes and sensations in your body as different areas make small relaxations.
- The slower rhythm of breathing will allow you to notice different feelings and have different thoughts. Welcome these as a sign of good change.