One of my favorite resources for learning and practicing breathing and other relaxation techniques is the Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook by Davis, Eshelmen, and McKay (2000). I'm sharing a few exercises from the workbook that I highly recommend.
Remember: Breathing exercises are portable. You can do them anytime, anywhere. Use the following exercises at any point throughout your day to enhance relaxation and release tension.
1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position with your arms and legs uncrossed and your spine
2. Breathe in deeply into your abdomen. Let yourself pause before you exhale.
3. As you exhale, count "one" to yourself. As you continue to inhale and exhale, count each
4. Continue counting your exhalations in sets of four for five to ten minutes.
5. Notice your breathing gradually slowing, your body relaxing, and your mind calming as you
practice this breathing meditation.
The Relaxing Sigh
During the day, you probably catch yourself sighing or yawning. This is generally a sign that you are not getting enough oxygen. Sighing and yawning are your body's way of remedying the situation. A sigh is often accompanied by a sense that things are not quite as they should be, and a feeling of tension. Since a sigh actually does release a bit of tension, you can practice sighing at will as a means of relaxing.
1. Sit or stand up straight.
2. Sigh deeply, letting out a sound of deep relief as the air rushes out of your lungs.
3. Don't think about inhaling—just let the air come in naturally.
4. Take eight to twelve of these relaxing sighs and let yourself experience the feeling of
relaxation. Repeat whenever you feel the need for it.
Letting Go of Tension
1. Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet on the floor.
2. Breathe in deeply into your abdomen and say to yourself, "Breathe in relaxation."
Let yourself pause before you exhale.
3. Breathe out from your abdomen and say to yourself, "Breathe out tension." Pause before
4. Use each inhalation as a moment to become aware of any tension in your body.
5. Use each exhalation as an opportunity to let go of tension.
6. You may find it helpful to use your imagination to picture or feel the relaxation entering and
the tension leaving your body.
Davis, M., McKay, M., & Eshelman, E.R. (2000). The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook. p. 26.