Relaxing breathing exercise
Anxious stressed breathing is often shallow breathing.
Deep breaths relax your mind by helping you focus on something other than your worries and relax your body by oxygenating your cells. I think of it as bathing your nerve endings in oxygen--so that the electrical currents jump the nerve ending synapses more smoothly and you feel less frazzled and edgy.
If you are anxious or tense for months or years, a shallow breathing pattern can result in a tense tight diaphragm. Then the tight diaphragm further restricts your ability to take deep breaths.
Breathing exercises designed to strengthen your diaphragm and increase it's elasticity can help in the short-term to give you an immediate relaxed feeling and in the long-term by improving your breathing pattern.
The video below shows Dr Andrew Weil, MD, demonstrating the yoga 4-7-8 breathing exercise.
It's supper simple and can be done anywhere in just a few minutes. As part of your daily routine, it can be relaxing in the moment and help you feel less tense in general.
Here's how 4-7-8 breathing works
To begin, exhale to expel all the air in your lungs to start a fresh cycle of breathing.
Touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth just behind your top teeth and leave it there for the whole exercise.
The 4: close your mouth and quietly breathe in through your nose to a count of 4
The 7: hold your breath for a count of 7
The 8: exhale through your mouth for a count of 8 (allow your breath to make sound as it comes out)
Repeat the 4-7-8 steps for a total of 4 cycles.
You can make the exercise more or less difficult by speeding up or slowing down the counting.
With practice you may be get better and better at it.
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- Ann Silvers