by Carol Krucoff
“Relaxed Abdominal Breath” is a sample activity from the book Yoga Sparks and is reprinted here with permission from New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Shallow breathing (“chest breathing”) can result in a vicious cycle: We breathe shallowly because we’re under stress, which makes the body feel it’s not getting enough air. This causes more stress, prompting faster, shallower breathing.
In contrast, breathing by relaxing the abdomen helps slow and deepen the breath. This triggers calming changes in the body and mind. That’s why relaxed abdominal breathing (“belly breathing”) is one of nature’s best anti-stress medicines.
- Lie down, if possible, or stand tall. If you’re lying down, feel free to bend your knees or put a rolled towel under your knees if that’s more comfortable.
- Breathe in and out through your nose and take a moment to notice the sensations of your breath coming into and leaving your body.
- Place your palms on your lower belly, resting them comfortably below your navel. Relax your abdomen.
- When you’re ready, inhale and notice how your belly rounds and your hands gently rise. Observe how your navel moves away from your spine.
- As you exhale, notice how your belly releases inward and your hands gently fall. Observe how your navel moves toward your spine.
- Continue for a few more slow, full breaths, watching this gentle rise and fall. Avoid pushing your belly out or straining. Be patient and relaxed. Your body knows how to do this.
It’s fine to breathe through your mouth if you must, but because the nose has little hairs that warm and filter the air, nose breathing is preferable.
Adapted from Yoga Sparks by Carol Krucoff, E-RYT. © New Harbinger Publications, 2014. Reprinted with permission. www.newharbinger.com
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