Being in a relaxed state is important to achieving optimal performance in any endeavor. Being relaxed will increase your productivity and a vital stepping stone to peak performance. If you are not relaxed, everything you do will be a struggle. Relaxation provides mind-body integration necessary for peak performance.
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breath deeply to relax.
Full, deep breathing is a good way to reduce tension, feel relaxed, and reduce stress. When you are relaxed, your breathing tends to be slow and gentle. It can be shallow or deep. One of the ways breathing exercises help you feel relaxed is getting you to feel the way you do when you are already relaxed.
There are different ways to breathe to relax. The methods described here focus only on breathing exercises. Other ways combine breathing with disciplines such as yoga and meditation.
Breathing exercises are easy to do and don’t take long to do. They also have health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, slowing a fast heart rate and helping with digestion.
There are a lot of breathing exercises you can do to help relax. It is best to start with belly breathing if you have never done breathing exercises before. It is simple to learn and easy to execute.
Try belly breathing anytime you need to relax or relieve stress by following these steps:
- Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
- Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
- Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.
- Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.
After you have mastered belly breathing, you may want to try one of these more advanced breathing exercises. Try all three and see which one works best for you:
“4-7-8” breathing can be done either sitting or lying down.
- To start, put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest as in the belly breathing exercise.
- Take a deep, slow breath from your belly, and silently count to 4 as you breath in.
- Hold your breath, and silently count from 1 to 7.
- Breathe out completely as you silently count from 1 to 8. Try to get all the air out of your lungs by the time you count to 8.
- Repeat 3 to 7 times or until you feel calm.
Rolling breathing helps you develop full use of your lungs and to focus on the rhythm of your breathing. It is best to lie on your back with your knees bent.
- Put your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your chest. Notice how your hands move as you breathe in and out.
- Practice filling your lower lungs by breathing so that your “belly” (left) hand goes up when you inhale and your “chest’ (right) hand remains still. Always breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Do this 8 to 10 times.
- When you have filled and emptied your lower lungs 8 to 10 times, add the second step to your breathing: inhale first into your lower lungs as before, and then continue inhaling into your upper chest. Breathe slowly and regularly. As you do so, your right hand will rise and your left hand will fall a little as your belly falls.
- As you exhale slowly through your mouth, feel the tension leaving your body as you become more and more relaxed.
- Practice breathing in and out in this way for 3 to 5 minutes. Notice that the movement of your belly and chest rises and falls like the motion of rolling waves.
Practice roll breathing daily for several weeks until you can do it almost anywhere. You can use it as an instant relaxation tool anytime you need one. Caution: Some people get dizzy the first few times they try roll breathing. If you begin to breathe too fast or feel lightheaded, slow your breathing.
Try morning breathing exercises when you first get up in the morning to relieve muscle stiffness and clear clogged breathing passages. Then use it throughout the day to relieve back tension.
- From a standing position, bend forward from the waist with your knees slightly bent, letting your arms dangle close to the floor.
- As you inhale slowly and deeply, return to a standing position by rolling up slowing, lifting your head last.
- Hold your breath for just a few seconds in this standing position.
- Exhale slowly as you return to the original position, bending forward from the waist.
Notice how you feel at the end of each of these exercises. Breathing techniques are so simple but such a powerful tool. Using relaxation skills can improve your state of mind. If you take the proper time to learn and hone these skills you may benefit from a more relaxed lifestyle.