The Way we breathe influences the way we feel. How we feel influences how we breathe. Breathing correctly can produce feelings and states of mind that combat stress. Relaxation gives your body time to rest and repair, physically and mentally. It reduces the heart rate and if practised regularly, will lower your blood pressure.
Correct breathing is slow and regular. Inhalations should be comfortable and natural. Nasal breathing is more effective in producing calmness. By watching your breathing a stillness can be experienced. This is often associated with feelings of calmness and restfullness. Prolonged exhalations in particular produce stilling effects. Conscious slowing of your breathing will produce calm.
Breathing to release tension
Sit or lie in a comfortable position with your arms and legs uncrossed, your spine straight and your feet on the floor. Take a few moments to get yourself as comfortable as you can. Let your body go loose and heavy; Let the chair, bed or floor support the weight of your body completely. Close your eyes. Breathe easily and normally, don't force your breathing. Concentrate on your breathing for a few moments. Choose one of the following methods of relaxation: -
1. Breathe in deeply into your abdomen. Put a hand on your stomach until you can feel it fill up. Count to four as you inhale. Let yourself pause for two seconds before you exhale. Count to six as you exhale. Continue breathing in this way for five to ten minutes. Notice your breathing gradually slowing, your body relaxing and your mind calming as you practice this breathing exercise.
2. Think, “breathe in relaxation.” Pause for two seconds before you exhale. Breathe out from your abdomen. Think, “breathe out tension.” Become aware of any tension in your body as you inhale. Let go of tension as you exhale.
3. Think of one word that you associate with being relaxed. The word may be something like 'calm', 'peace', 'sunshine' or even 'relax' itself. It doesn't matter which word you choose as long as it is one word that means relaxation to you. Say your word to yourself each time that you breathe out. So, breathe in, breathe out and say the word in your mind. As you breathe out visualise yourself breathing the tension out of your body.
4. Visualise yourself breathing in a favourite relaxing colour and breathing out a colour that you might associate with stress.
Let yourself relax like this for 5 to 15 minutes. When you have finished relaxing allow yourself to slowly come to; never jump up too quickly during or after relaxation.