Breathing and Meditation Exercises

Breathing is something that we do everyday without much thought, yet many of us are doing it improperly.

When you watch a newborn at rest, you will notice that they breathe into their belly first, and then the rest of their lungs inflate. Between infancy and adulthood, we lose this natural instinct to breathe diaphragmatically, and instead tend to breathe into our upper lungs only. Not only does this cause muscular imbalances within our system, it also does not supply us with as much oxygen as we could be getting.

Try these exercises at home to start learning how to breathe diaphragmatically and incorporate that into your life and meditation practice.

Exercise 1:

Lay down on a couch or bed (preferably with little to no distractions). You can put on calming music in the background if that helps to soothe you. Take one of your hands and place it on your stomach, just above your belly button. Take your other hand and place it on your chest above your heart.

When you go to take a deep breath in, try to fill the area by your hand that is on your stomach first. When you feel like you can no longer fill that area, fill the second area where your hand is by your heart. Hold the breath for a couple of seconds. When releasing your breath, let your stomach muscles relax first, followed by the muscles by your second hand.

Ideally with time, you will take 5-8 seconds to inhale, a 1-2 second pause, followed by a 4-6 second exhale.

Exercise 2:

Mountain Pose
Standing Forward Bend
After completing exercise 1, move to a standing position. As you inhale into your stomach similar to the first exercise, reach up into mountain pose.

When exhaling, bend your body forward into the standing forward bend.

Repeat 5-10 times.

Exercise 3:

Go for a nice walk in the park, on a trail, or in the woods. While you are out there, do your best to clear your mind of other thoughts and instead focus on your breathing. Do your best to practice the diaphragmatic breathing from exercise 1. While breathing, take the time to evaluate your body. Do you notice any tension in your stride? If you do, focus on that area for awhile, imagining it relax the same way your diaphragm does after a deep breath.

Continue focusing on your breathing during the duration of the walk. If other thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them for what they are, and then return to your breath.

Hopefully these three exercises will help you to breathe more productively and lead to a happier, healthier life!

Corinne D. Bracko-Douglas, CMT, LMT, CKTP is the owner of Dochas Clinical Massage Therapy based out of Columbia, MO. She received her diploma in Clinical Massage Therapy from The Soma Institute in Chicago, IL in 2004. She enjoys teaching others about how to live a healthy lifestyle and still works one on one with clients out of her private clinic. When not working as a therapist she can be found enjoying trail hikes with her wonderful husband, Lee, and their adorable doggos, Shadow and Koda, or trying out fun new workouts to expand her knowledge of the human body and how it functions.

The advice given in these articles is not meant to diagnose. Please always consult with a health care provider before performing any of the techniques described upon yourself.


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