Breathing for Relaxation

Breathing for Relaxation

Controlled breathing can do more than just help you relax. It can also help control pain, anxiety, and other conditions that lead to or are related to stress. There are many methods of controlled breathing. Two of the most popular are belly breathing and tension-release breathing.

Belly Breathing

1. Lie on your back and relax.

2. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Your hands will help you gauge your breathing.

3. Take in a slow, deep breath through your nose and into your belly. Your abdomen should rise significantly (check with your hand); your chest should rise only slightly. Focus on filling your abdomen with air.

4. Exhale through your mouth, gently pushing out the air from your abdomen.

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Tension-Release Breathing

1. Lie down or sit in a chair and get comfortable.

2. Take a slow, deep breath into your abdomen. Inhale through your nose. Try to visualize the air moving to every part of your body. As you breathe in, say to yourself, “Breathe in relaxation.”

3. Exhale through your mouth. Visualize tension leaving your body. Say to yourself, “Breathe out tension.”

These techniques have many variations. For example, sit in a chair and raise your arms, shoulders, and chin as you inhale; lower them as you exhale. Or slowly count to 4 as you inhale, then again as you exhale.

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