Practicing focused breathing exercises can help you relax and relieve the tension you’ve built up during the day. Our everyday lives tend to weigh on use, causing us to be in a constant state of arousal, even if we have nothing to be excited about. This can cause emotional problems including irritability, anger, and depression along with physical symptoms like headaches and stomachaches. Relaxation breathing can relieve these symptoms. These methods can also be used to calm yourself before you go to sleep. This way you get more of a better quality sleep that leaves you feeling rested and rejuvenated.

The first step is to find a good position to be in for your breathing exercise. Many techniques will suggest different positions including: the prone position (on your stomach), lying on your back, sitting cross legged, sitting on your feet with your knees facing forward, or standing. No matter what the method suggests, you need to be in a position that makes you comfortable. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to relax no matter how you breathe. So find something that works for you. You may also try periodically changing positions throughout your breathing exercises; in fact, some techniques recommend it.

The next step is to use proper breathing technique. Naturally, we tend to take short shallow breaths. Breathing exercises involve taking longer, deeper, fuller breaths. This type of breathing changes the percentage of carbon dioxide in our systems, putting us in a more relaxed state. To accomplish this type of breathing, you should be sure to breathe by pulling your stomach in and out (toward and away from your spine). You should also make sure your shoulders stay relaxed; if the shoulders are moving up and down, your breathing is too shallow. An appropriate deep breath should bring out the stomach, chest, and collar bone.

The appropriate deep breath is very slow. It’s best to allow about 5 to 6 seconds for each inhale and the same for each exhale; however, it’s more important for you to focus on your technique rather than your pace. Breathe in deeply through your nose, and exhale though your mouth. A common yoga technique is to tighten your throat when you exhale so it sounds as if you’re whispering.

Do your best to focus your attention on the breathing. The point of breathing exercises is to clear your mind of stress, not give you a better opportunity to focus on it. You’ll probably find your thoughts wandering; just try to bring your mind back to the breathing when you do. As you have more and more experience, you’ll begin to find it easier to focus on your breathing and relaxation rather than the hassles of everyday life.

You may also find it helpful to practice visualization exercises while you’re breathing deeply. Picture each muscle in your body and focus on it feeling relaxed. Once that part of your body is relaxed, you can move on to another part. You may also choose to focus on the stress physically pouring out of your body through your fingers and toes.

Whatever method you use, deep breathing is a great way to get to sleep or simply unwind at the end of a long day.