One simple breathing technique to deal with stress – Extended Exhale Breathing

Breathing techniqueAfter about a year of trying to get pregnant I decided to focus less on my corporate career and more on my yoga.  As many of you know, the pregnancy journey is a hard road to travel with huge highs and lows. I felt as though I was constantly short of breath.  I remember sitting down to read a book, thinking that I was relaxing, and I could feel my heart banging away underneath my chest.  So I started looking into yogic breathing techniques that would calm my nervous system and help me breathe easily again. If that sounds like something you can relate to, try this simple extended exhale breathing practice. It certainly helped me.

First find a comfortable seated position.  You could sit on a chair with your feet on the floor and your spine straight, or on the floor leaning against the wall.  Close your eyes and focus on your breath.  Notice how your breath is moving.  Is it fast or slow?  Is it easier to breathe in or out? There is no judgement. Just notice.  In yoga we breathe in and out through the nose. See if you can make the outside of the nostrils really sensitive so that you can feel cool air coming in through the nose and warmer air leaving.  Place your hands on your belly and as you inhale feel your belly rise, as you exhale feel it gently fall back to the spine.  Try and keep the chest still as you breathe from the belly.

Now start to count your breath. Breathe in for one count and breathe out for two counts, through the nose.  Do this 10 times.  Then if you feel able, start to increase this breath ratio.  Breathe in for two counts and out for four counts. Again do this 10 times.  Don’t rush.  We spend our lives rushing from one thing to the next, take your time. Luxuriate in each breath. Remember, the breath should always be easy and smooth.  If it becomes tight pull back a count or come back to your normal breath.

Extended exhale breathing is like the ultimate self help tool for calming frayed nerves, like when you are waiting for test results or travelling in a taxi on the way to appointments.  I found it powerful and easy to do – and best of all it really works.


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