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Deep Breathing for Relaxation

Meditation

Ever feel exhausted, stressed out, or overwhelmed? Then perhaps some deep breathing is in order. Not only does deep breathing feel great, it also takes no time at all to complete, costs nothing, and will result in positive health benefits for you and those around you.

The Benefits of Deep Breathing

So why does deep breathing feel so good? For one, it immediately relaxes you. By concentrating on breathing deep and evenly you can let go of any worries that may be causing you stress. Deep breathing delivers extra oxygen to the bloodstream and encourages the body to release endorphins – natural hormones that will relax and revitalize you. Deep breathing can help relieve a myriad of problems – including anxiety disorders, sleep problems, aches and pains, and promotes a healthier, calmer attitude.

How Not to Deep Breathe

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just “breathe deep” – in fact, most people do it wrong. If you are sucking in your stomach as you breathe and raising your shoulders, you’re actually breathing shallow. In order to breathe deep you need to focus on your diaphragm, it should move down as you your breathe in, drawing the air deeper into your lungs. When you suck in your stomach you are actually preventing the diaphragm from fully contracting and limiting the amount of air you can breathe in.

Breathing Exercise for Relaxation

Slow, deep breathing helps to expel the carbon dioxide in our lungs, while forcing the body to relax and calm down. Try this exercise to clear your mind, relax, and breathe deep:

  1. Find a quiet location where you can sit comfortably, on a chair or the floor.
  2. Sit straight up (no leaning against a wall/the chair).
  3. Fold your hands in your lap or place them on your knees.
  4. Pay attention to your inhales and exhales – how do they sounds / feel?
  5. Once you have relaxed for a few minutes, place your hand on your belly and feel the motion of your stomach. It should rise when you inhale and flatten when you exhale.
  6. Continue this exercise for at least five minutes.

If you are unable to find a quiet location, consider using headphones with nature sounds (waterfalls, ocean, forest, etc.) to block out the noise of your home or office. By repeating this exercise once or more per day you will find that you are more relaxed, centered, calm, and have more energy to complete your day.

Photo (top): lululemon athletica
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