Focused breathing is one of the first lines of defense against agitation and anxiety. The military uses it to help soldiers focus. Psychotherapists use it to calm anxious patients. Even doctors use breathing techniques to help people with everything from chronic pain to childbirth. Anxiety affects your entire body, even and especially your menstrual cycle. OB-GYN Women’s Centre at Lakewood Ranch is here to help you start with basic breathing exercises and work our way up in complexity.
Breathe in and Hold
This is an easy breathing technique that can help reduce anxiety and stress.
- Sit somewhere comfortable with your feet on the ground and your back straight.
- Relax your shoulders and your face muscles.
- Breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose.
- Hold this breath for anywhere from 3 to 10 seconds, depending on your level of comfort.
- At the end of your count, expel your breath through your mouth, engaging your abdominal muscles and exhaling as much as you can.
- Repeat this exercise for as long as you desire.
Equal breathing refers to a simple breathing technique commonly used in yoga.
- Begin by sitting comfortably with your back straight. You can even lie back in bed or on the couch.
- Breathe in through your nose for four seconds. Then, breathe out through your nose for four seconds.
- If you have good lung capacity and control, up the count to six seconds or more, remembering that the goal isn’t to breathe too heavily.
- Continue as long as you like or until you feel calm.
Breathe Into Your Belly: Abdominal Breathing
Another technique borrowed from yoga is breathing into your belly, an exercise also known as abdominal breathing.
- To start, sit or lie down in a comfortable position that allows you to put one hand on your chest and one on your stomach.
- Breathe fully into the stomach instead of the chest, feeling it inflate beneath your hand.
- Next, breathe out, pulling your stomach back towards your spine to expel all of the breath.
- Repeat this until you are fully relaxed.
This one encompasses some of the techniques mentioned above along with your imagination.
- Using any of the techniques above or even your natural rhythm of breathing, imagine breathing in refreshing, cool, rejuvenating air and breathing out all of the hot stress built up inside of you.
- You can visualize this in many ways — as colors, textures or the temperatures previously mentioned.
- The point is to focus on your breathing and the release of tension.
Progressive Breathing and Relaxation
This type of breathing and relaxation is used to relieve tension from head to toe.
- Sit and close your eyes. Now focus on relaxing and tensing each muscle group for two to three seconds.
- Work your way from your toes all the way up to your head.
- If you have trouble focusing, try breathing in through your nose for five seconds while you tense your muscles. Then breathe out while you relax your muscles.
Kapalabhati or “Skull Shining Breath”
This breathing technique literally re-energizes you. You can feel your day getting brighter as you start incorporating this breathing exercise into your daily routine.
- This starts with a long and slow inhale, followed by a quick and powerful exhale that starts in the lower belly.
- Once you get comfortable with the slow inhale and ensuing quick exhale (all breathing through your nose), quicken your breathing every one to two seconds to execute a total of 10 breaths.
- This method of mindful deep breathing helps you wake up and look on the brighter side. It can even work to warm your body and re-energize you.
Breathe Easy With OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch
All of us at OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch understand that life can be stressful. Between work, school, bills and children, it often seems there just isn’t enough time to take care of ourselves. Practice these breathing techniques and contact us today for any of your medical needs. We strive to make every patient feel calm and prepared for whatever life throws their way.