Posts Tagged ‘breathing to relax’

What to Do When You’re Feeling Anxious

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

relaxation-breathing-techniquesExhale and Relax

It’s really that simple. Exhale and relax. Just exhale and relax.

Sounds simple, but for some, it’s not that easy.

This breathing technique I am about to teach you has been used successfully to relax countless times by actors, public speakers, and singers. It is taught in meditation, yoga, Pilates, performing arts, martial arts, boxing, birthing, and archery. For more than 20 years in my Hypnotherapy practice I taught it to new non-smokers and people with anxiety issues.


neck-pain-strainBecause it doesn’t matter what age, gender, or body type, we are all built the same way.

If you take short breaths high up into the chest due to anxiety or panic (or from years of inhaling tobacco smoke), well, the lungs are held rigid by the rib cage, there’s no room for the lungs to move up there, and it can start to feel like the walls are closing in.

Have you ever felt like you can’t seem to catch your breath no matter how much air you gulp in? You are inhaling and inhaling, but it feels like you just can’t get in enough air, and your heart is racing.

By now your Sympathetic Nervous System has kicked in, adrenaline is pumping through your veins, your shoulders are raised and tense. Your body is getting ready to lunge or jump out of the way… not getting ready to give a speech.

Professional vocalists know all that upper chest breathing and tension in the shoulders would greatly affect your ability to concentrate and vocalize in a relaxed tone.

Do you ever see the shoulders of a Newsperson move when they are reading the News? No. But they are breathing. And they seem pretty relaxed.

breathing-techsThe professional vocalist or wind instrument musician breathes the exact opposite way the person having a panic attack does.

The key to enhancing the ability to relax naturally, is to breathe horizontally, not vertically.

To do this, professionals are taught to focus on exhaling more than on inhaling more, using the diaphragm muscles of the abdomen, also known as the “belly breath”.

The only way to make words or music is by exhaling… and for as long as possible, to make as much sustained sound as possible.

Also, the longer a person exhales, the more time the lungs have to snatch oxygen from that breath, a secondary health benefit. Only about 45% of the oxygen is absorbed from each normal breath, and this is a way to increase that.

In order to exhale more than the average person would, the professional tenses their diaphragm muscles to squeeze out the air from the bottom of the lungs, so that on the next inhale, more fresh air enters the lungs that would have with a shallower breath.

So to get more air in, first you have to get more air out.

Breathing in this manner not only gives a person more oxygen, more air to vocalize or play a wind instrument, but it also activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System, the part of you that controls your relaxation response, helps you get to sleep, and stay asleep all night. When you are sleeping, your body is primarily using your diaphragm muscles to breathe, and that’s what you mimic.