There are many books and classes on deep abdominal or belly breathing, which is used for relaxation, sleep and stress management. I have practiced and taught it for years.
The simplest way to check whether you are breathing from your belly is to lie on your back with one hand on your abdomen and one on your chest. Relax your shoulders and take a deep breath – your bottom hand should be the only one that moves.
If you find you get light-headed with this breathing, it means you are taking in too much oxygen, so concentrate on the out breath, emptying your lungs, rather than overfilling them. If you empty your lungs, then you will automatically refill them.
Make sure your shoulders remain still – this is the most helpful tip I have come across. See how easy it s to breathe deeply if you do this.
One of the most relaxing things you can do comes from Rue Hass author of EFT for the Highly Sensitive Temperament. She suggests you purse your lips and blow out hard. It is quite incredible how good the next breath feels, light, full and unforced.
For pain management, Dr. Marcus suggests you practice taking a few abdominal breaths each hour.
I always suggested taking advantage of what I call “found moments” in the day: waiting at traffic lights, riding an elevator etc. Moments when you can’t actually DO anything and probably tense yourself further by getting impatient – foot-tapping moments. Instead, breathe.
If you are settling down to read or watch TV, then make a point of setting your breathing to belly breathing. You are likely to remain in that mode once set.
The Relaxation Response by Miriam Z. Klipper and Herbert Benson.
Minding the Body, Mending the Mind by Joan Borysenko
Mindfulness: an Eight-week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Prof. Mark Williams and Dr. Danny Penman. A really good course with downloadable breathing meditations.
Empowed Breathing by Eli Bay: a CD that teaches abdominal breathing as a meditation. You can try it for free at http://www.elibay.com. I have used it for years and love it.
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