Breathing strongly influences mind, body, and moods. By simply putting your attention on your breathing, without even doing anything to change it, you move in the direction of relaxation.
Thoughts are the source of much of our anxiety, guilt and unhappiness. Get in the habit of shifting your awareness to your breath whenever you find yourself dwelling on upsetting thoughts.
The single most effective relaxation technique is conscious regulation of breath. Following is a yogic breathing exercise that is simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment, and can be done anywhere.
Although you can do this exercise in any position, to learn it you should do it seated with your back straight. Place the tip of you tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and leave it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward
First exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound
Next close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental
count of four.
Next hold your breath for a count of seven.
Then exhale completely through you mouth, making a whoosh sound to
a count of eight.
This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times
for a total of four breaths.
Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. This exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.
You may also notice an immediate shift in consciousness after four of these breaths, a feeling of detachment or lightness or dreaminess, for example. That shift is desirable and will increase with repetition. It is a sign that you are affecting your involuntary nervous system and neutralizing stress. Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens, before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. Everyone can benefit from this.....