Using breathing exercises is an excellent way to relax and relieve stress.
Throughout my journey studying stress and stress management, I have noticed two things regarding meditative and breathing exercises. The first is that most experts agree that they are beneficial not only for stress relief, but also to your physical health as well. The second thing I've learned is that there are many different types and interpretations.
Depending on the exercise, the goals may also be different. Some aim to energize while others invite relaxation. There are others that focus on healing different parts of your body as well as different illnesses, such as Asthma, and many different breathing exercises are used in pain management.
The benefits are broad and will depend on your goals as well as your ability to focus and practice the exercise of your choice. Just as when you're doing physical exercise, you may decide to do an exercise to target one particular area and your benefits will depend on practice and use of that exercise.
As you begin to use breathing exercises, you'll need to be patient with yourself and allow time to develop good concentration. Especially if you are someone who is experiencing stress or tends to have racing thoughts. Holding concentration during breathing exercises can be difficult in the beginning. However, even when your concentration isn't perfect, you will experience some benefits.
The following steps will take you through simple breathing exercises that will allow you to relax and build your concentration. Once your concentration improves, not only will you be able to practice more advanced exercises, but you will be able to carry this new found skill into many other areas in your life and learn to relax much quicker.
If you're sitting, sit straight up and focus on good posture. If you're sitting on the floor, cross your legs and allow your hands to rest comfortably in your lap. If you're sitting in a chair, maintain good posture with your feet flat on the ground resting your hands comfortably in your lap.
If you're lying down, lie on your back stretching out to create a long body line, but don't stretch yourself out in a way that's uncomfortable. You can then fold and relax your hands gently on your stomach so that you can feel each breath going in and out throughout this exercise.
When beginning to take notice of your breath, first notice that you are breathing. That may sound silly, but remember that many of us tend to hold our breath when we are experiencing stress, so it is important to recognize your body breathing naturally.
During this breathing exercise, it is important that you do not try to change the way you are breathing. Let it happen naturally and simply focus on the different attributes of your natural breathing.
When focusing, take notice of where you are breathing from. As your body naturally moves, does it come from your lungs or deeper in your diaphragm? If you're lying down with your hands resting on your stomach, do you notice your hands moving up and down with each breath?
Take notice of the speed and depth. Are you breathing quickly or slowly? Are your breaths shallow or deep?
Continue focusing on the different aspects of your breath and hold this position and focus for ten minutes. If your mind begins to wander, bring your focus back to your breath. The more you practice, the easier it will become to maintain and hold your focus.
You may want to set a timer for ten minutes so that you're not tempted to open your eyes and look for a clock. Your other option would be to let yourself naturally end the exercise. Realize that the goal here is relaxation, it is not to fall asleep.
If you are using this exercise for pain management, after you've noticed your natural breath, you can begin to imagine each breath coming in directly to the area you are experiencing pain. Imagine that each breath in is bringing fresh oxygen to that specific part of your body. With each breath out, imagine that you are expelling toxins and pain from that same area.
You can do the same with stress. With each breath in, imagine yourself bringing in good, fresh oxygen, and with each breath out, imagine that you are releasing your stress and worry directly through that breath.
These are just some simple techniques that you can use to individualize your exercises and get the most out of them. There are many other ways you can use and practice breathing exercises, and remember not to worry if you have trouble concentrating. Getting a good solid ten minutes of concentration takes practice but it is well worth it. You may be surprised at all of the benefits that breathing exercises will bring you.
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