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Manage Stress With Breathing

Some call it pranayama, yogic breathing, counting to ten, no matter what you call it, slowing down the breath changes the physiology of the body. To begin, notice how you are breathing. Are you breathing from your chest or abdomen? Is it a quick shallow breath or a deep long breath?

There are many exercises you can do on your own and anywhere you are. One of my favorites is to place your hands on your tummy and forcefully push out all of the breath you possibly can. (Placing your hand on the abdomen helps you know whether you are doing the exercise correctly). Hold this exhalation for three seconds. Now breathe into your abdomen and feel your hands being pushed out. Hold this inhalation for three seconds. Get in touch with this deep breath. Once you’re comfortable breathing this way, you don’t have to place your hand on the abdomen.

Most of the lung’s capacity to store air is in this deep part of the chest cavity, yet most of us don’t breathe deeply enough to benefit. By forcefully pushing out all of the stale air that is in this cavity, you will receive a lot more oxygen. Be careful not to over exert because the increased oxygen can make you light-headed. If you feel any dizziness stop immediately.

Once you get the hang of that exercise, you can try pulling the breath into your chest and upper lung area. Once you have fully inhaled, hold for three seconds. Continue to practice inhaling and exhaling from this area with long, slow breaths, holding each inhalation and exhalation.

When you have a good feel for doing both of these exercises, put them together in a four part breath. Start by breathing into the deep bottom of the lung and slowly fill up the whole lung with oxygen into the upper part, as well. Hold for five seconds. Now gently exhale from the bottom first (feeling your hands being drawn into the abdomen), then exhaling the upper portion of the lungs.

Do this three times for right now and notice how you feel. Once again, the extra oxygen in the blood supply may make you a little dizzy at first, but as the body gets used to the oxygen, this feeling will disappear.