In a meeting with a difficult client? Trying to convince your neighbour that it’s not OK to let his dog do its business on your lawn? Just breathe.
When you are under a lot of stress, your breathing can become shallow. The correct breathing technique is very important in yoga and meditation and is an essential technique to master for everyday life. Slow, deep breathing lowers blood pressure, decreases anxiety and can help heart irregularities among other things.
Babies instinctively know how to breathe properly – they inhale and exhale from their abdomens. This deep breathing allows the abdomen to expand to its full capacity, drawing in enough oxygen to supply all the cells in the body.
As adults, stress tightens up the muscles and speeds up the respiration rate. The result is thoracic breathing that makes use of only the middle and upper chambers of the lungs.
Try the following six-second tension reliever at least three times a day:
Push your stomach out as far as you can, then draw in a long, deep breath.
Hold it for three seconds.
Now exhale with a long breath.
As you breathe out, drop your jaw and your shoulders.
Feel the tension in your neck and shoulders dissipate – you should feel the relaxation flow right down to your fingertips.
(Health24, updated January 2009)