Since breathing is something we can control and regulate, it is a useful tool for achieving a relaxed and clear state of mind. The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress (e.g., decreases in heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing, and muscle tension). – The American Institute of Stress
When eliciting the relaxation response:
- Your metabolism decreases
- Your heart beats slower and your muscles relax
- Your breathing becomes slower
- Your blood pressure decreases
- Your levels of nitric oxide are increases
Steps to Practice Deep Breathing (Very Well Health)
- Sit upright in a comfortable chair with your feet placed side by side on the floor. Close your eyes.
- Place one hand on your belly, with your pinky finger just above your belly button.
- Start to pay attention to the rise and fall of your belly. What you are feeling is your diaphragm, working to draw air in and out of your lungs.
- Notice that as you breathe in, it feels like a balloon is being filled with your hand. As you breathe out it should feel like the balloon is deflating.
- Place your other hand on your chest. You will want to try to keep this hand as still as possible and to just let the diaphragm do all of the work of breathing. While you are at it, keep your shoulders relaxed — you don’t need your shoulders to breathe!
- Inhale slowly to the count of three.
- Then exhale slowly to the count of three, thinking the word “relax” as you do so.
- Stay focused on the action of your diaphragm. Your bottom hand should move outward as you fill your lungs with air and move inward as you exhale.
Mindful breathing has huge health benefits. You don’t need any special equipment and it can be done anywhere. Just Breathe.