We’ve all heard time and time again that stress is the #1 cause of illness, but for many of us, it seems impossible to escape stress in our daily lives. After a long day of hustling around from class to class, client to client, borough to borough, I often find it hard to get my brain off the hamster wheel. So, how do I keep stress from swallowing me up? I’ve discovered one sure-fire technique to finding relaxation that is simple and can be practiced anywhere…deep abdominal breathing. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you take in, the less tense and anxious you feel.
• Sit comfortably with a tall spine. If you are seated on a chair, be sure your feet touch the ground. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Note: If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting upright, try this technique while lying on the floor.
• Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, initiating the breath from the belly. You should feel the hand on your abdomen rise as your belly inflates, however the hand on your chest should move very little.
• Exhale through your mouth for 4 counts, forcing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your abdomen should draw in as you exhale, but the hand on your chest should move very little.
• Repeat this sequence for several rounds of breath.
AUTHOR: Dina Ivas