THE RIGHT WAY TO DO DEEP BREATHING
Seriously, how many times have you been told to “just breathe” when something majorly upsets you, or you’re stressed at work? Thing is, “just breathe” really isn’t as easy as it sounds. An expert tells Clara How how to get it right.
It’s not as easy as it seems. An expert tells you how to do it right.
Deep breathing is good for you – it sends your body into a more relaxed state, releases tension, and gives you clarity.
“When used at the right time (for example, when your body sends stress signals – like a racing heart or clenched jaw), deep breathing can stop you from losing your temper,” says school counsellor Camille Ko.
“Many people try to breathe deeply when they’re at 10/10 on the anger scale,” Camille says. “But really, you should do it at 5/10 on the scale. Once you’ve reached the peak, you can’t think straight or calm yourself down.” That’s why you need to be aware of your body’s responses, so you can catch yourself. IT’S ALL IN THE BELLY Good deep breathing comes down to two things: breathing from the base of your lungs, and having longer exhalations than inhalations, says Peggy Santosa, a yoga instructor who teaches pranayama (the control of breath) at The Yoga School. “When you exhale longer [than you inhale], it sends a message to your brain that you’re switching from an active to a relaxed mode.” In short, when you take brief, shallow breaths, your mind tells your body to remain in “ght mode” – a big no if you’re trying to stay calm.
You might not realise it, but most of the time, you breathe using just the upper part of your lungs. That means the breath originates from your chest, and is shallower. The most effective way of drawing deep breaths, says Peggy, is through diaphragmatic breathing, colloquially known as “belly breaths”. She breaks it down: STEP 1 Put one hand on your chest, and the other on your belly – doing this helps you better feel the movements. Sit up straight and release tension in your belly by pushing it outwards. The hand on your belly should pick up this movement. STEP 2 Take a deep breath as you expand your belly. When you inhale, you should feel the hand on your stomach moving outwards, as your diaphragm and ribcage expand. Hold your breath for six counts. STEP 3 Release your breath, exhaling slowly for seven counts. At the end of the counts, you should feel as if that breath has been entirely expelled. Your body should feel more relaxed, and your mind should be clearer. STEP 4 Repeat until you’re completely calm.