Just Breathe | 3 Techniques to Better Breathing

Many of us have heard that deep breathing is helpful in one way or another. Let’s take a
look at why… When we become hyperaroused, our nervous system kicks into fight/flight mode. This
usually happens when we feel anxious, panicked, nervous, or worried about something. This means that our body will respond and prepare us to either fight or flee from danger. One of the main things that changes is our breath. Our breath becomes rapid and shallow, which helps the body become more tense or rigid to prepare to fight or flee. This type of breathing does not help us think with our logical brain. Our body is only concerned with protecting us in this moment. Often, when this happens, our body is the first thing to signal to us that we might be escalating in some way. This is actually pretty miraculous because our body is also the first thing we can attend to if we need to calm the brain down. We do not always need our body to protect us when we are feeling nervous or anxious so if we can listen to the body’s signals, then our body is like our superpower! If we can gain control of our breath, it sends a signal to the brain that we are actually not in danger; we are just experiencing some intense emotions and we can
handle this situation. Calm the body, calm the mind!

Try out these different breathing techniques to see the best one that fits for you! Then see if you
can practice when you are calm as much as you can so your mind can remember when it needs it!

  • 3 Part Breath
    • Take a moment to notice how your body is naturally breathing. Then, with your next inhale, actively expand your belly and notice as it contracts when you exhale.
      • Continue this for 3 deep breaths, slowing the breath down each time.
    • On your next inhale, expand the belly and then trace the breath up to your ribs. Notice as the ribs expand then close in as you exhale, then the belly follows and contracts to finish the exhale.
      • Continue this for 3 deep breaths, tracing the breath up as you inhale and down as you exhale.
    • On your next inhale, expand the belly, trace the breath up to the ribs, and then up even further to your chest. Notice as the chest rises then falls as you exhale, then the ribs close in, then the belly contracts to finish the exhale.
      • Continue this for 3 deep breaths, tracing the breath up as you inhale and down as you exhale
        • Inhale -> belly, ribs, chest
        • Exhale -> chest, ribs, belly
  • 4,7,8 Breath
    • Take a moment to notice how your body is naturally breathing. Begin to actively slow down your exhales, breathing out of the mouth. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth.
      • As you inhale through your nose, notice your belly expanding. As you exhale through your mouth, notice your belly contracting. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. See if you can continue this breath in through your nose and out through your mouth while keeping your hand on your chest as still as possible…only moving your hand on your belly in and out as you inhale and exhale.
        • Then as you inhale, slowly count to 4 in your mind
        • Suspend your breath for a count of 7
        • Exhale for a count of 8
    • Continue for 10 deep breaths, trying to breathe in and out with the belly
  • Mindful Breathing
    • Close your eyes and take a moment to just simply notice how your body is naturally breathing. Are the breaths short? Long? Deep? Shallow? Smooth? Ragged? See if you can notice what shifts in your body as you breathe. What sensations do you feel? Can you feel the air coming in and out of your nostrils? What happens if you plug one nostril at a time? Can you notice your belly and/or chest rising and falling?
      • Take a scan of your entire body from head to toe and notice any sensations you might be experiencing at this moment.

Be curious and notice what your body has to say!

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