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Yoga at Work: A Stress Reduction Guide

Part II: Breathing

Yoga at Work: A Stress Reduction Guide

Your most immediate tool for managing stress is the way you breathe. It is such a natural tool that it is often overlooked, but breathing patterns not only reflect how you feel, they can actually change how you feel.

Once you understand how breathing affects your sense of well-being, you will be able to use your own breath to bring about a sense of calm and composure, even during the most stressful situations.

15. Abdominal Breathing. Abdominal breathing is the breath that calms. It fills the lower lung rather than the upper lung, so it is slower and provides long-lasting energy. To practice deep breathing, place one hand on your lower abdomen (below your waist). Exhale by pressing inward with your hand to contract your abdomen. To inhale, expand the abdomen forward. This opens the low lung area. That’s all. The chest does not move. Develop a rhythm, and then practice without your hand. Exhale by contracting, inhale by expanding.

Whenever you feel harried, check to see where you’re breathing. Most likely you are using chest or upper lung breathing, in which you lift your chest to inhale and drop it to exhale. Take a break for several moments of low abdominal breathing. As soon as you get active again, you’ll naturally revert to upper lung breathing, but now you’ll know how to relax from it when you feel stress.


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