What’s interesting about breathing is that even though you don’t consciously involve yourself in how you do it, the way you do breathe affects you in a variety of ways. For example, studies show that if you breathe in quick shallow ways, a stressed consciousness will be provoked. You will often become more irritable because you get stuck in “a flight or fight” mindset.

Luckily there are ways out of the stress of this kind of breathing pattern.It comes as you consciously take control of your breathing in two ways. One is to slow it down.It is useful to know that you can slow your breathing to just about as slow as you want without anything dangerous happening – your body would take over and force its will upon you if you breathe too slow.

As you do the exercise that follows, bear in mind that you do have the power to slow your breath – enabling you to take yourself out of the “fight or flight stress pattern”, which you are probably in too often.

The second way of improving your breathing state is to draw the breath lower into your abdomen. Indeed, a problem that most people have while breathing is that they breathe too high in their chest. Instead, they should bring the air lower by using the diaphragm muscle at the bottom of their ribcage.

When your diaphragm muscle works properly, your abdomen will be pushed forward while inhaling. Unfortunately, it is common for people to use the smaller muscles of their chest and even neck to inhale. This can contribute greatly to both neck and upper shoulder tightness as these muscles are used to draw air into the lungs – instead of the stronger diaphragm muscle in your abdomen.

FYI: Did you know that Lung issues – from asthma to chronic bronchitis are affected by our breathing habits – and we each take over 15,000 breaths a day?

Exercises

1. Crocodile Breathing: Lie on your stomach, arms folded under your chest so that you don’t have to turn your head from a face down position. Breathe deep into your abdomen – which gives you the sensation of your abdomen pushing down into the surface below it. Breathe for 15 to 50 breaths in this way.

2 . Lie on your back with your hands resting on your abdomen. As you inhale, feel your hands rising ceiling-ward. Exhale and feel your abdominal muscles working.Repeat for 15 to 50 or more times.

3. Sit forward in a comfortable chair so that your knees are lower than your hips, feet touching the ground. Count your breaths as you breathe slowly into your abdomen. Feel your mind relaxing as you do this. You can make this into a meditation moment by guiding your closed eyes upward and to the center. Do for 5 to 20 minutes. In all these techniques, feel how your consciousness changes – moving you into a calmer nervous system state of being.