3–5 minutes of abdominal breathing everyday improves our overall breathing pattern, strengthens the diaphragm, increases oxygen supply to the brain and triggers the body's natural relaxation response.
1. Choose a quiet spot. Begin by observing the level of tension in your body. Place one hand on your abdomen, right beneath your rib cage, as you do this.
2. Breathe in slowly through your nose into the ‘bottom’ of your lungs and let the air in as deeply as you can. Let your hand remain over your abdomen. As you breathe in, you will notice your chest moving only slightly, and your abdomen expanding to take in all the air you inhale.
3. After inhaling fully, pause briefly, and let the air out slowly through your nose or mouth depending on whichever is comfortable. It is important to exhale fully. As you do this, you will notice that your abdomen flattens.
4. Continue taking a few abdominal breaths. Do this slowly without gulping in air or letting it out all in one ago. Let your breathing be smooth. Counting upto 4 as you inhale and then counting upto 4 as you exhale can help you achieve a rhythm. Remember to pause briefly at the end of each inhalation. Take 10 such breaths, counting one number with each exhalation.
5. To take your practice further, you can do 2 or 3 sets of abdominal breathing.
You can do this simple exercise consciously as you are walking, waiting in the exam hall, etc. Start with a minute of the exercise and progressively increase the duration over a period of time. Five full minutes of abdominal breathing can reduce stress levels significantly and help your body function optimally.
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