Most of us, if not all, build up tension during the day. Breathing exercises will help relieve the tension and teach us how to relax. Because of the overscheduled day to day lives that we seem to live now-a-days we are constantly in a state of arousal, even if there isn’t anything to be excited about. This constant state of arousal is bad for us not just emotionally but also physically. Irritability, anger, and depression are just a few of the emotional symptoms that you’ll experience. On top of the emotional havoc it causes on our bodies, we will also experience the physical side of things in the form of headaches and stomachaches. Practicing relaxation breathing will help in reducing these symptoms. These will also be good methods to use to help relax before you go to bed.
The very first thing you need to do is find a position that will be comfortable for you to be in while practicing your breathing exercises. There are many methods that have been suggested such as the prone position (on your stomach), laying on your back, sitting cross legged, standing or sitting on your feet with your knees facing forward. It doesn’t matter what method you choose, the important thing is that you are comfortable. You need to be in a comfortable position in order to relax. Some techniques even suggest that you change positions throughout your breathing exercises; that’s entirely up to you.
Next, you need to use proper breathing techniques. Normally when we breathe we are taking short shallow breaths. During breathing exercises you will take longer, deeper and fuller breaths. When you use a breathing exercise and are taking the longer and deeper breaths it changes the percentage of carbon dioxide in our system, putting you in a relaxed state. In order to accomplish this type of breathing you need to breathe by pulling your stomach in and out (toward and away from your spine). Make sure that you keep your shoulders relaxed. You can tell if your breathing is too shallow by your shoulders. If they are moving up and down your breathing is too shallow. A deep breath that is done properly should bring out the stomach, chest and collar bone.
The proper deep breath is going to be very slow. For maximum results you should allow about five to six seconds for each inhale and exhale. However, the most important thing for you to focus on is your technique rather than your pace. Breathe in deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth. A yoga technique that is used while deep breathing is to tighten your throat when you exhale so it sounds as if you’re whispering.
As mentioned above, its more important to focus on your technique and not the pace. The purpose of breathing exercises is to help you clear your mind of the stresses you are feeling, not focus on them. It’s normal to find your mind wandering; don’t give up and quit if it happens to you, just bring your thoughts back to your breathing and focus on what you are doing. The more you practice these breathing techniques the easier they will become and the easier it will be for you to focus on your breathing and relaxation instead of the stress from your day to day life.
Another thing that some people find helpful in clearing their mind and not focusing on the stress of the day is to practice visualization exercises while breathing deeply. Or you can focus on the stress physically pouring out of your body through your fingers and toes.
It doesn’t matter what method you choose to use, deep breathing is a wonderful tool to use to get to sleep or if you just need to unwind at the end of the day. And don’t forget to take a couple deep breaths throughout the day.