How do I Choose the Best Relaxation Breathing Technique?

Norma Jean Howland

If you are thinking about using a relaxation breathing technique, there are several options to consider. You may want to enroll in a yoga or tai chi class, both of which involve breathing exercises. You can also experiment with deep muscle response breathing, which uses breathing and tension to relax muscle groups. If visualization is something you enjoy, exercises using guided imagery, meditation, or music are available. Since breathing is something everyone does, you can even create your own technique by experimenting with this natural way of relaxing.

Tai chi focuses on breathing and slow, concentrated movements.
Tai chi focuses on breathing and slow, concentrated movements.

Breath work is important to most yoga exercises, so taking a yoga class may be a good way to begin. One advantage a yoga class provides is that you will have an instructor to guide you. There is also something to be said for being part of a group when you are learning something new. Another plus is that you may find that you develop a leaner body by practicing yoga.

Deep muscle response breathing alternates muscle tensing with breathing to promote relaxation.
Deep muscle response breathing alternates muscle tensing with breathing to promote relaxation.

If you are interested in exploring breathing techniques in a movement class that is less strenuous than yoga, you may want to try tai chi. Although it is martial arts based, tai chi uses gentle, low impact movements. Since tai chi is done while focusing on breathing and slow, concentrated movement, it is often considered an appropriate exercise for the elderly or for patients recovering from injury.

Yoga can help you learn the basics of breathing techniques.
Yoga can help you learn the basics of breathing techniques.

Guided imagery and meditation is another way to explore a relaxation breathing technique. There are CDs and DVDs that use spoken word meditation or sounds. If you enjoy visualization, this may be the right choice for you. Once you learn to use this tool, you can use it to escape modern day stresses almost anywhere.

Deep muscle response breathing alternates muscle tensing with breathing to promote relaxation. This relaxation breathing technique can be done in several different ways, and you can alter it to find one that works for you. It involves breathing into a muscle area as you inhale, tensing the muscle, and releasing the tension on the exhale. You can also do this without tensing your muscles, just breathe into a body part, pause, and allow the tension to drain away as you exhale.

Since you have to breathe anyway, adding a few slow, concentrated inhale/exhale patterns to your day may be a simple way to begin developing a relaxation breathing technique. Probably one of the most important aspects of such a technique is breathing into your diaphragm. You can make sure you are doing this by placing your hand over your abdomen. When you inhale you should feel it rise, and as you exhale, you will feel it collapse.

Deep breathing can help people relax in stressful situations.
Deep breathing can help people relax in stressful situations.

Discussion Comments

csrao

I can certify from my experience over the last 10 years that 'Focusing on breathing' (FOB) is a simple and easy technique to induce relaxation and reduce stress. When we passively focus on breathing, it gradually becomes slow and deep. FOB can be done in many modes. The following ‘segment mode’ induces significant relaxation by the time six hands are completed. It induces very deep relaxation in all the muscles of the body, when practiced for 30 to 45 minutes. It should be practiced before a meal or three hours after a meal, lying on the back on the carpeted floor, legs spread out wide and the hands lying by the side of the body. Make sure to choose a time when you would not fall asleep.

Many other modes of focusing on breathing can be found online.

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