Relaxed Breathing

St.Francis Prep. Physical Education 788

Tai Chi/Yoga


It is healthier to inhale through the nose rather than through the mouth. The tiny hairs in the nostrils act as a filtering system for dirt and impurities from the air that would, if inhaled through the mouth, be absorbed into the lungs. Also, it is better to inhale through the nose, especially in cold weather, so that air taken in through the nose is warmed before reaching the lungs.

I. Diaphragmatic Breathing
Method: It is fundamentally important that the air be taken as low into the lungs as possible, as if trying to fill the lower abdomen with air.

First - In a relaxed sitting or standing position, place your feet flat on the floor, back and neck straight, not arched or curved, chin tucked, eyes closed or focused on a point nearby, straight ahead.

Second - Place your right hand just below your navel and your left hand on your chest. Continue breathing normally for a few moments. Notice that as you breathe, your chest is moving, expanding and deflating, while your abdominal area is relatively still.

Third - Gradually take a slow, even breath through your nose directing it as low as possible into your lungs, trying not to allow the chest to rise, but keeping it "sunk" and free of tension. Feel the filling of the lower abdomen with your right hand, using the left hand over the chest to monitor whether it is remaining still. Both inhaling and exhaling should be done slowly, gradually and evenly.

It is important that you maintain a good posture, relaxed muscles and that you develop the ability to practice the exercise with a peaceful mind. It will be helpful to wear loose clothing or loosen the belt.

This exercise should be practiced on a regular basis, until you feel comfortable breathing this way. Use this method of breathing at all times. You don't need "time out" to utilize this method of relaxation - you have to breathe anyway - Why not relax as you breathe?

II. Complete Yogic Breath
Method: This exercise is actually three phases of breathing done in sequence - diaphragmatic, thoracic, and clavicular.

Begin by exhaling fully and then inhaling down into the lowest parts of the lungs. As they fill, the abdomen will begin to protrude. Continue to inhale, filling the chest to its capacity. To complete this breath, continue to inhale into the clavicular area. The slight movement of the shoulders up toward the head will accomplish this. To exhale properly, reverse the process.

Establish a routine of practice for yourself and practice this method of breathing three or four times during each practice session.