Breathing Exercise for Relaxation

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For many years I have known that when we human beings are anxious, pressured or feeling stressed...our breathing becomes shallow and we only breath high in the chest. We don't fill our lungs and we become oxygen deprived which only makes us feel more anxious and more stressed. This whole viscious cycle also causes neck and back tension and can lead to spinal misaglignments with cervicogenic headaches. These are headaches that have their genesis or creation from nerve and muscle tension in our cervical spine or neck.

Have you ever noticed yourself or someone else after they have run a sprint trying to catch a bus or train or athletes after competing in a sprinting race? Have you noticed that their shoulders and chest are heaving up and down? As humans we recruit the neck and upper back muscles to help us pull the chest up so we can get the air we are desparately craving after the running has winded us. This same mechanism occurs when we are anxious or stressed and not breathing deeply enough. Our body goes into oxygen strarvation mode and recruits those same neck and back muscles to help move the chest to breath. This creates chronic tension in our neck and upper back muscles with the resulting neck and upper back pain with even the tension headaches mentioned above.

So how do we remedy this? Become aware of our breath and breathing! Consciously breath and even let our belly help us breath which engages our diaphragm more completely. Sitting up with a better posture also helps us take in air to our lungs. Also it is very helpful to do the breathing exercise that you see and hear on our youtube video which played as this page opened on your computer. In quick summary for the breathing exercise you will take a couple of minutes and focus on your breathing. You will breath in thru your nose to a count of 4 and then hold that breath for a count of 8. You will then breath out thru your mouth to a count of 4 with your lips pursed as in blowing a trumpet or blowing up a balloon. Now hold your breath out for a count of 8 and then REPEAT this cycle again another 2 to 4 times.

Now notice how much more relaxed you feel and how much better your mood, thoughts and attention have become. This is the most effective and least costly stress reliever you can use anywhere and anytime.

Dr. Dana Q. Pletcher

Libertyville, IL

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