Abdominal breathing slows you down and brings a good supply of oxygen to your brain. Check your breathing pattern by putting one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. If your lower hand moves and your top hand does not, you are doing abdominal breathing. But if your top hand moves and your bottom one does not, you are doing chest breathing. Here’s how to do it:
You’re going to inhale through your nose and exhale out of your mouth. Your exhalation needs to be longer than your inhalation. To slow your exhalation down let your breath out as if you’re blowing out a candle (purse your lips).
- Lay down flat and place your hand’s fingertip to fingertip with your middle fingers meeting at your belly button.
- As you inhale through your nose, push your belly up and feel your fingertips expand. Rest a beat, before exhaling slowly through your mouth. Rest a beat before inhaling again and feel your belly rise. Repeat this cycle five times.
- Now place your hands under the breast area of each side of your body which is the rib area.
- As you inhale through your nose, expand your ribs and feel your hands push out. Rest a beat, before exhaling slowly through your mouth. Rest a beat before inhaling again and feel your ribs expand. Repeat this cycle five times.
- Now you are going to do a complete breathing cycle, inhaling deeply from the belly and ribcage and exhaling completely.
- As you inhale through your nose for a count of 5, push your belly up and expand your ribs. Rest a beat, before exhaling slowly through your mouth for a count of 6. Rest a beat before inhaling again and feel your belly rise and your ribs expand. Repeat this cycle five times.
The more you practice abdominal breathing, the easier it will become. Eventually, you will be able to it anywhere, sitting, standing or lying down.
10-1 COUNTDOWN BREATHING
For a variation on this breathing technique, try 10-to-one countdown breathing:
- Start with abdominal breathing, letting all the breath out through your mouth and then allowing your abdomen to expand as your lungs fill up again.
- When you exhale, say “TEN,” letting go of tension as if it is being carried out of your body with the air.
- Next time you breathe out, say “NINE” and so on, all the way down to “ONE”
- When you get to “ONE” start again.
- Each time you breathe out, tell yourself you are letting go of tension.
- Many people repeat this sequence slowly for a period of fifteen to twenty minutes. They find that with each new countdown, they reach a deeper level of relaxation.
Square breathing allows us to slow our breathing rate. The most important part is to breathe out completely. Then take a deep breath to a count of four, hold to a count of four, breathe out to a count of four (seconds at least), then hold for a count of four. This is how it works:
Breathe out/exhale completely
Breathe in 2 – 3 – 4
Hold 2 – 3 – 4
Breathe out 2 – 3 – 4
Hold 2 – 3 – 4
The focus of this exercise is the counting to four as this gives your breathing a specific length, which reduces the breathing rate.