Why is Relaxation so important?
Breathing for Relaxation
Feeling weary, not getting enough sleep, working too hard, have an overactive mind – whatever your reason to practice a relaxation technique there are plenty of ways to find calm and breathing exercises are right up there. The important note here is that (a) you actually do it and (b) on a regular basis. From the confines of a bed, your desk – indeed anyplace where negative emotions, stress and anxiety finds its way, consider some breathing exercises to help keep calm, relax and carry on!
The goal of any relaxation technique is to consciously produce the body’s natural relaxation response.
Relaxation is more than a state of mind, it physically changes the way your body functions. When you body is relaxed your breathing slows, blood pressure and oxygen consumption decrease and most of us report an increased sense of wellbeing.
This is the Relaxation Response.
So, don’t wait until fight or flight kicks in before minding your breath. Start and practice today. Breathing exercises, as with many other chosen relaxation techniques, not only promote feelings of calm, happiness and help us de-stress; they also keep the mind and body functioning at their best!
Many experts encourage using the breath as a means of increasing awareness, mindfulness or, for the yogis out there, finding that elusive state of Zen. They can’t all be wrong. Much research has been done now to prove that the relaxation response does, when activated, have the following positive effects:
Your heart rate decreases
Breathing becomes slower and deeper
Blood pressure drops or stabilises
Your muscles relax
Your body begins to heal
So don’t delay, start today – the beauty of breathing exercises, is it’s such a simple yet powerful relaxation technique. It’s easy to learn, can be practiced almost anywhere, and provides a quick way to get your stress levels in check. Deep breathing is the cornerstone of many other relaxation practices, too, and can be combined with other relaxing elements such as aromatherapy, mindfulness meditation and visualization.
So lets get started, on some Deep Abdominal Breathing exercises:
The key to deep breathing is to breathe from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible in your lungs. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel.
Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
- Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little. Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.
The goal is 6 -10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day to experience immediate reductions to heart rate and blood pressure. If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying on the floor. Put a small book on your stomach, and try to breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.