Breathing Tips and Techniques

For those with Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease and Seizures/Epilepsy: Physician/Healthcare Provider Approval Needed

Breathing exercises alter physiology by changing blood carbon dioxide concentration, heart rate, and blood pressure. This is usually a good thing. For those with high blood pressure and heart disease, decrease in blood pressure may produce lightheadedness or dizziness. Therefore medication may need adjustment and awareness and approval by a physician or other healthcare provider is essential before you begin. Most healthcare providers will be happy to hear that you are advancing your health by doing breathing exercises and should encourage you.

Seizures can be triggered by hyperventilation, and abdominal breathing (exhale longer than inhale) is one way to prevent seizures.

Epilepsy Breathing Instructions from Epilepsy websites:

Belly breathing. It is very important you are belly breathing and not chest breathe. Belly breathing is known by other names such as diaphragmatic breathing, stomach breathing or abdominal breathing. Whatever you choose to call it, to using your abdomen instead of your chest.

Recline in a chair or flat surface. Place one hand between your chest and abdomen. When you breathe in, you should feel your abdomen rise beneath your hand, your chest should move little. When you exhale, your abdomen should fall, your chest should move little.

For a video demonstration and explanation of belly breathing go here. A breathing exercise that calms panic attacks.

Prayer Breathing. While seated, when you bow your head to pray, should find it easier to begin belly breathing!

Choose a breathing rate From the counting exercises at Breathing Exercises select a rate that is comfortable. Important NOT to feel pressure to breathe or not breathe (i.e. like you can’t get enough air.) Most people start at 3 seconds (3 in/ 3 out). 10BPM As you become more familiar and more relaxed, you will be able to breathe more slowly.

Once you have found a comfortable rate, you can stay with the Counting Guide, or try one of the Breathing Melodies.

Breathing Melodies have embedded breathing cues. You can choose a melody with cues between 2 and 8 seconds, to match the rate you desire. The breathing cues simply say, “breathe.” This can be an in breath or an out breath depending on the cycle you choose to follow. It is personal preference.

Smiling cue. Most of the Breathing Melodies have a cue that says, “smile.”  This means smile AND breathe. Don’t forget to breathe! Many people think that we smile because we are in a good mood, but research also shows that smiling can improve your mood and affect your perception of what you are doing. Smiling helps you take in information more positively.

If air escapes too fast. If exhale is too quick, simply add a pause after exhalation and before inhalation. For example, if you are doing a four second exercise, breathe in for four seconds, then breathe out for two seconds then pause and hold your breath for two seconds before inhalation. If you are doing a 4 in/6 out exercise, breathe in for four seconds, breathe out for two seconds and then hold your breath for four seconds before you inhale. Research shows that this is as effective in accomplishing the desired changes. And some find it is easier.

Air control methods. If you want to slow the exhale one trick is to pucker your lips as if blowing through a straw, this will restrict the air and slow your exhale. Another trick is to put your tongue against the back of your upper teeth as an air restrictor. Opening your mouth only slightly will also slow your exhale.

Relaxation response. Breathing out longer than breathing in stimulates the parasympathetic system and tells your body, “There’s no danger, you can relax.” The songs only maintain the same count for in and out breath, but the counting exercises have choices for a longer exhalation, such as 4 seconds in and 6 seconds out.

Yawning and Falling Asleep. Many people yawn and become sleepy when they begin to breathe in a synchronized fashion. Many of us need sleep, which is a good thing. However, sleeping does not develop the focus and neurological changes that these exercises are designed to nurture. They can be used to induce sleep, but are designed for much more – to powerfully affect your thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Aches and Pains. Headache, stomachache and any type of pain usually improves when the body comes in to focused rhythmic breathing. Breathing often allows sleep and relaxation.


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