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Reduce Stress with Deep Breathing

The breathing cycle happens about 720 times per hour, more than 17,000 times a day – without us ever even thinking about it! The biological wonder of a breath is easy to take for granted, and yet it is the most basic miracle of life.

When you take deep slow breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense and anxious you feel. And because you’re busy counting your breaths when doing a conscious breathing practice, your mind will get a rest from all the thinking it habitually does. Because we are all so busy, we may feel we can’t possibly add one more thing to our schedule. But an active deep breathing relaxation practice can be done anywhere. It’s especially easy and effective when done at bedtime. It provides a simple way to help manage your stress levels, and the more you practice, the easier it is for you to ‘fall into’ relaxation.

The key to deep breathing is to breathe slowly from the abdomen, filling your lungs with as much fresh oxygenated air as possible.

  1. Sit or lie down comfortably with one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  2. Breathe in slowly and fully through your nose using a count of 5. The hand on your stomach will rise quite a bit while the hand on your chest will move very little.
  3. Exhale slowly through your nose or mouth, using the count of 7 and contracting your abdominal muscles at the end of the exhale. The hand on your stomach will move in as you exhale fully.
  4. Continue this rhythmic breath cycle for 5-10 minutes, inhaling enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls.

At Massage Therapy Center Palo Alto, we encourage you to get massaged frequently and to use your attention to breath slowly and consciously while you are getting worked on. You will double the benefits of your bodywork session as you effectively activate your body’s relaxation response with aware touch and breath.