Take a deep breath, expanding your belly. Pause. Exhale slowly to the count of five. Repeat four times.
Congratulations. You’ve just calmed your nervous system.
Here are three basic breathing exercises to try on your own.
If you have the time to learn only one technique, this is the one to try. In coherent breathing, the goal is to breathe at a rate of five breaths per minute, which generally translates into inhaling and exhaling to the count of six. If you have never practiced breathing exercises before, you may have to work up to this practice slowly, starting with inhaling and exhaling to the count of three and working your way up to six.
- Sitting upright or lying down, place your hands on your belly.
- Slowly breathe in, expanding your belly, to the count of five.
- Slowly breathe out to the count of six.
- Work your way up to practicing this pattern for 10 to 20 minutes a day.
When your mind is racing or you feel keyed up, try Rock and Roll breathing, which has the added benefit of strengthening your core.
- Sit up straight on the floor or the edge of a chair.
- Place your hands on your belly.
- As you inhale, lean forward and expand your belly.
- As you exhale, squeeze the breath out and curl forward while leaning backward; exhale until you’re completely empty of breath.
- Repeat 20 times.
When the mid-afternoon slump hits, stand up and do some quick breath-work to wake up your mind and body.
- Stand up tall, elbows bent, palms facing up.
- As you inhale, draw your elbows back behind you, palms continuing to face up.
- Then exhale quickly, thrusting your palms forward and turning them downward, while saying “Ha” out loud.
- Repeat quickly 10 to 15 times.