When someone tells you to 'take a deep breath', what do you normally do?
Most people take a deep breath with their chest. Their shoulders rise, and their chest expands.
This isn't so helpful for relaxing yourself. A truly calming breath comes from breathing with the belly.
Try this exercise.
1. Sitting comfortably in front of the screen, put one hand on your belly, over your belly button, and the other on the centre of your chest at about the level of your armpits.
2. Take a deep breath as you would ordinarily do, and see which of your hands moves, or if both of your hands move.
3. Now relax your shoulders and let them drop, giving a gentle sigh. Use only your belly to draw in the next breath. You should feel your belly expand under your hand but no movement from your chest.
Simply allow the breath to be there. You're not trying to take a deep breath, only to breathe in as far as is comfortable.
4. Pause for as long as is natural and comfortable, then exhale, feeling your belly move back under your hand as you exhale. Again pause for as long as you feel comfortable.
5. Try this for a few breaths and then return to your normal breathing.
If you find yourself feeling a little lightheaded then make sure to slow your breathing down. Belly breaths take in more oxygen to the lungs, so they don't need to be as rapid as normal chest breathing is.
You may also find you need to adjust your usual posture in order to make the space for this breath. Play around and find a position that lets you breathe comfortably in this way. You may be surprised at the results!
Babies. Perfect belly breathers!