Breathing is the basis for both life and all relaxation activities.
The simple practice of being more mindful of your breathing can help you relax. When you practice diaphragmatic breathing your mind slows down as you focus on your breathing and stop criticizing, analyzing, and worrying so much.
The parts of your brain that control breathing are intimately related to the parts that control the stress response. Controlled, deep, even breathing facilitates relaxation. Rapid, shallow, irregular breathing disrupts relaxation. One of the main cues for understanding whether you are stressed is the pace and depth of your breathing. If it is rapid and shallow, chances are that you are stressed.
Becoming aware of your breathing pattern is the first step in learning how to slow your breathing down and reduce stress. Learning to control your breathing will provide immediate benefits in learning to control your stress response.
By breathing correctly you can strengthen and train your lung functioning, increase your cardiovascular response, increase oxygenation of your blood, calm your nerves, and increase restfulness.
Most of us use only a portion of our lungs when we breathe. We tend to breathe with the top third of the lungs. To receive the stress-reducing benefits of breathing, you must learn how to get your entire lungs involved through diaphragmatic breathing.
When you are stressed, the muscles in your abdomen tighten up and work against your diaphragm’s natural downward push. This keeps the diaphragm from fully contracting and allowing maximum air to enter your lungs. One of the goals of diaphragmatic breathing is to help you relax your belly so you can deepen your breathing and get more life-giving air into your lungs
Diaphragmatic breathing and breath meditation are key components of Relax, one of my lines of defense against stress. Start relaxing by spending a few minutes every day listening to my relaxation audio files. Each is designed to help you learn how to relax by lying down and following the simple instructions.