One of the most potent keys to expanding your capacity when you are under pressure is to control your breathing pattern during your day-to-day work. Every day you take between 16,000 and 23,000 breaths, and each breath takes in about 250ml of oxygen and disposes of 200ml of carbon dioxide.
In many Eastern traditions, breath is seen as the 'essence of life' and healing, and is known as 'Qi' (chi), 'prana', or 'life force'. For centuries the Yoga gurus have trained themselves to control their breathing rate to the point where they are able to slow their heart rate down, reduce their blood pressure, dramatically increase or decrease their body temperature, and control the amount of pain they feel in their body. The rate, depth and quality of your breathing can increase your energy levels, calm your nerves, clear your mind, enhance your health and even block pain."
There are 3 general breathing principles that apply to each situation. They are:
1. DEPTH: Allow your abdomen (belly) to move in and out as you breathe. Allow your breathing to be deep in your abdomen, instead of being shallow in your chest. This allows your diaphragm to efficiently draw air in and out of your body. Sitting for long periods often tenses the abdomen muscles, reducing the depth of each breath.As you breathe in, allow your abdomen to move out. As you breathe out, allow your abdomen to move in. (This is the natural way you breathe when you are asleep)
2. POSITION: Remind your body to be in an upright position, instead of stooped or hunched over posture. Being hunched over a computer all day can get your body into the habit of tensing stomach and chest muscles - which restricts your breathing. Every so often, stop what you are doing and deliberately sit up straight. Notice the difference your body position can make to your breathing pattern.
3. FREQUENCY: Taking longer rhythmic breaths both calm your body and help to focus your mind. Breathing in for 4-5 seconds, holding for 2 seconds, then breathing out for 4-5 seconds is a good starting frequency to create positive breathing habits.
Unless you make a habit of breathing deeper, with better body position, and good frequency every day, you will probably fall back into stress induced short, sharp and shallow breathing habits. Remember, using your breathing as a stress relief tool is quick and very efficient. This is the most potent of all the stress management techniques because your breathing patterns controls your emotions, and you can control your breathing.