Stress Release Exercises

LEARNING TO BREATHE

Breathing is a natural occurring event in the body.  We are often unaware of the rate and rhythm of our breathing, but some awareness of our breathing is important if we wish to successfully manage our stress.  The following exercises will help you relax and harmonize your body.

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ABDOMINAL BREATHING

Begin by lying on the floor or on a bed with your arms at your side and your legs uncrossed.  A small pillow under your head or neck might help make you more comfortable.  Close your eyes and begin breathing slowly, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through your mouth.

Now place one hand lightly on your lower abdomen.  Concentrate on the movement of your abdomen as you breathe.  Raise your hand upward with your abdomen as you inhale, letting your hand fall as you exhale.

Now breathe in slowly, and as you exhale, use your hand to push your breath out farther than you normally do.  Imagine the air slowly filling your abdomen and emptying with a whoosh or sigh.  Exhale at the same rate as you inhale.

Pause after each exhalation and don’t rush.  Do this TEN TIMES.

SYNCHRONOUS BREATHING breathing

This exercise is designed to harmonize your breathing and heart rate.  Coordinating these two important rhythms brings an increased sense of well being.

As you inhale fully, count the beats of your pulse; this is your breathing number.

  • Inhale to your number.
  • Hold for one half of your number.
  • Exhale to your number.
  • Hold for one half your number.

Continue breathing this way for THREE MINUTES.

STRETCHING

1)  Stand up and stretch out your arms and hands to the ceiling.  Lift yourself up on the outstretchedtips of your toes and stretch as far as you can. Hold that stretch for a count of 10.  Slowly release the stretch to a count of 10 and allow yourself to bend at the waist, like a rag doll.  Hold this position for a count of 10.

Gradually erect yourself, one vertebra at a time. Roll head from side to side. Roll shoulders forward then backwards. Roll arms in large circles, forwards then backwards.

2)  Lie down on the floor.  Roll yourself up into a ball.  Wrap your arms around your knees and squeeze your whole body together as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.

Gradually release the squeeze to a count of 10.

Repeat 2 or 3 times.

stretching3)  Lie on the floor or bed. Close your eyes.  Relax your body as much as you can.  Place one hand on your stomach and feel the rhythm of your breathing for a few moments.

Now inhale deeply, hold that breath for a count of 5, then slowly exhale.  Feel how your inhale raises your hand on your stomach.   Feel how your exhale lowers your hand on your stomach.  Focus on the rise and fall of your hand.

Turn your attention to the warming sensations building in your hands and feet.  Feel the tension in your shoulders and back give way.

Slowly open your eyes and allow your breathing to return to normal.

4)  Sit on a pad or on a firm, but soft surface.  Make sure that your back will not hit the hard floor. Draw up your knees, and bend your head down. Put your hands under your knees. You can join your hands or not depending on what is easy on you.

rocking

Keeping your spine rounded, gently swing back and forth, imitating the swinging motion of a rocking chair. Don’t straighten your spine as you will roll backward or you will find yourself lying flat on your back, unable to swing forward again. Don’t roll back too far on your neck. Don’t try doing the rocking exercise too slowly either. Imagine you are a rocking chair in motion. Feel for the massaging action on your spine.

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