Here is one of my favorite breathing exercises that you can do at home or anywhere.
Select a soothing song, the length is your choice. If you would like you can use this song.
Come to a comfortable seat or lie down. Allow the spine to belong. Soften your shoulders, feel a gentle lift from the crown of your head as you continue to lengthen your spine.
Bring your attention to the breath. Notice where the breath naturally sits in the body – the belly, ribs, chest? Do you breathe through your nose or mouth?
Choose to either close the eyes, or steady your gaze on something out in front of you. Begin to deepen your breath. First feeling the breath grow in your belly. You can even place a palm on your belly button to feel the rise and fall. Now, begin to lengthen your exhalation.
Then, send your breath into the space between your belly button and ribs. You can move your hand up higher between your belly button and ribs, or both of your hands can rest softly on your lower ribs. Feel the breath moving here. Each breath a rise and fall. You are now practicing diaphragmatic breathing. Invite the body to soften, continue to breathe. Remember, you are in control of how long you practice for. Stay for a few minutes, or a few breaths.
Your breath responds to your autonomic nervous system. This means you have a natural breathing pattern already, which is linked to the state of your nervous system currently.
Sometimes, when you intentionally change your breathing pattern, a state of anxiety or discomfort is common.
Listen to your individual needs.
You may choose to stay with the discomfort, with an understanding that it takes time for your body to adjust to a new pattern. You may also choose to come out of the practice, recognizing this practice as something to come back to.
Practicing little and often is more helpful than flooding your experience and forcing something your body is not ready for.
Embrace your own process without judgment. Invite compassion for yourself as you explore your own connection of the breath and the nervous system. Each diaphragmatic breath you practice is one step you take in balancing your nervous system. *
Twice a week I offer a 90-minute online yoga class called "Yoga for Mind Body Wellness". Would love to have you join me.
About the Author
Dana Saad is a Registered Yoga Teacher and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. In addition to conducting private individual counseling at Key Therapy Counseling, she also holds weekly yoga classes (see list of classes here). She completed her yoga training at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health and has pursued additional training in Trauma-Informed Yoga (through Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga) and Yoga Nidra (through the iRest Institute). Her Trauma-Informed Yoga classes incorporate a mindful approach to trauma processing, deep relaxation, and mind/body balancing intended to treat current symptoms related to an overactive nervous system.