Breathing

by Marianne Ross, Ph.D.

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A few nice deep breaths can be so relaxing. It can be a quick and easy stress reliever. You can do this anytime. You can do this anywhere. It is not visible to others.

And the good news can be that because you are less stressed, you will handle things more easily.

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Word has it that when people are stressed, they tend to take short little breaths rather than deep, relaxing ones. Is this true for you? Check it out.

Quick and Easy Stress Management Breathing Exercise:

  • Sit down or lie down.
  • Inhale slowly and say to yourself I am...
  • Exhale slowly and say to yourself relaxed.

Breathing is not something you DO. Rather it is something which you ALLOW. (p.26) The problem is that we don't allow our breathing to occur smoothly and naturally.

For those who are a bit more ambitious, here is a way to experience more about breathing.

Experiencing a Full Breath

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While it is not possible or necessary to fully expand the lungs with every breath, it is vital in heightening awareness to experience how a really complete breath feels. Used periodically, this exercise utilizes the lungs to capacity, and extracts great amounts of "life force" from the air.

Directions: Try this exercise sitting, standing and lying down.

1. Exhale deeply, contracting the belly.
2. Inhale slowly as you expand the abdomen.
3. Continue inhaling as you expand the chest.
4. Continue inhaling as you raise the shoulders up towards your ears.
5. Hold for a few comfortable seconds
6. Exhale in reverse pattern, slowly. Release shoulders, relax chest, contract the belly.
7. Repeat.

This exercise will require gentle practice in order that inhalation and exhalation be smooth and balanced. Beginners should only do it 2 or 3 times continuously.

From: The Wellness Workbook. Travis, MD & Ryan; Ten Speed Press, 1988

4/22/98

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