Have you ever needed to calm down before an important meeting or before giving a speech? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed between the deadlines, the phones calls and all the thoughts in your head reminding you about what still needs to be done once you leave the office? Look no further, there is a magic tool to help you achieve calm and poise whenever you need within a minute. It’s called abdominal breathing. Let me show you how and why it works.
Stop what you do now and breathe.
Sit comfortably and straight, long spine and shoulders relaxed. Place your right hand on your belly and gently start breathing into that space. Inhale: fill up your belly with air, pushing your hand out in front of you. Exhale: empty your belly completely, letting your hand move towards your spine. Bring all your focus to your abdomen as you breathe in, feel the air filling up the space, let your belly expand. Breathe out, let it all out, slowly, smoothly, without creating any tension in your core muscles. Repeat 5 to 10 times, taking long deep breaths here.
If you have time, continue for a few more rounds breathing directly into the chest. Place now the left hand on your chest and breathe into the thoracic cage, filling up your lungs as much as you can on the inhale and releasing down on the exhale. Here again, do not cramp up your muscles in order to breathe deeper, just see how deep your breath can go and while remaining comfortable. Check this video for step by step instructions on how to fully relax with the abdominal-thoracic breathing.
The proof is in the breathing.
Breathing into your abdomen automatically switches the part of your autonomous nervous system that helps you calm down. Indeed when you start breathing deeply using your diaphragm, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers the relaxation response in your brain and body. Your system knows that you are safe, that now is the time to relax and will release an hormone called acetylcholine to let your heart rate go down. From a simple breathing technique, you instantly create a major shift at the physiological level, which in turn directly impacts your mental and emotional states.
You have powerful resources within yourself and it is up to you to use them when you need them.
It is that easy and probably it is the simplest yoga method to use anywhere and anytime to reduce stress as well as anxiety naturally and effectively. So exit worrying and thinking that you should know everything about stress management techniques before you start using them. Stop blaming yourself for not having enough time to take a break at work or in your daily life to breathe and feel better straight away, in the moment. All you need to know is that you have powerful resources within yourself and that it is up to you to use them when you need them. From stress to calm, from anxiety to resilience, from being overwhelmed to feeling empowered.