Breathing Exercises Made Simple

I’ll be honest…20 years ago when I entered graduate school and we started using relaxation and breathing exercises to decrease stress…I was skeptical.

I am a doer and achiever and there is just something about doing these exercises that did not seem to get you anywhere. 🙂

In the 20 years since then that I have been using them for myself and with clients. And my mind has completely changed on that. I have seen time and time again the impact that using breathing exercises can have on the body and the mind.

  • Decreased stress and anger…Increased calm
  • Decreased pain and discomfort
  • Lower blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increased sleep
  • Increased focus

And this article from the Mayo Clinic shares even more physical and emotional benefits.

And Now… there is a lot we cannot control about the current situation, but we can help our bodies and minds relax. They have been made in a remarkable way that something as simple as breathing deeper can make us calmer.

Here are 3 Basic Breathing/Relaxation Techniques to try out for yourself:

Deep Breathing: 

1)Sit in a comfortable spot

2)Take some deep breathes so that your belly expands as you breathe in and flattens as you breath out

3)Just breathe in a way that is comfortable for you either in and out of your nose or mouth

4)Let your body relax more and more as you breathe in and out

Adaptations: #1On the in-breath: Intentionally breathe in a positive emotion and On the out-breath: Intentionally breathe out a negative emotion.

#2Use a breath prayer to relax your body and rest in assurance of God’s care for you. Something like: On the in-breath: Lord Jesus On the out-breath: Help me see you today

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

1)Start at your feet or at your head and work your way through each muscle group in your body

2)Slowly squeeze or tense the muscles and then relax them (if you hit an area that is painful or tender just relax the muscle do not squeeze it.)

Here is a video that leads you through this exercise if you are one that does better with a video.

Self-Guided Imagery

This is the idea about imagining some place that you have been that was really relaxing. Like going to your “happy place.”

1)Relax in a comfortable place, close your eyes and just take some deep breaths.

2)Imagine some place that you have been like on a vacation or some place that you just enjoy relaxing

3)Imagine yourself relaxing in that place with all of the pleasant sensations of being there. Imagine all of the memories and sensations you experienced there. What did you: see, hear, smell, feel, taste…? What were your favorite things about being there? As you imagine yourself there with all of the wonderful aspects of being there you will start to experience those same feelings of relaxation and calm that you did while you were there.

Everyone is a little different when it comes to relaxation and breathing exercises. Experiment with these. See what you like best. It might be challenging at first or you might get distracted by thoughts. That’s okay. With practice, the exercises will get easier and easier and you find more benefits with them.

Let me know what you think! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!

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