Most people under breathe or breathe too shallowly, breathing from the chest area or even just the throat. You should breathe from the abdomen and the diaphragm. If you watch a baby or a young child breathe, you will see that he does this naturally. His tummy rises as he breathes in, and it falls as he breathes out. It is only later in life that we acquire poor, rushed, anxious breathing habits.
Learning to breathe
Singers are taught to breathe as children do, from the abdomen. Breathing from your abdomen can induce a feeling of calm and relaxation and can be an excellent way to regain perspective during a stressful day.
Simply stand with shoulders relaxed and feel your breath slowly coming up from the abdomen. At the same time feel the diaphragm and rib cage expanding. Hold the breath for a moment and then let it out very gradually.
Before you start the relaxation exercises, be sure first to spend a few minutes breathing calmly.
Five minutes rest
Lie on the floor with palms facing upwards and your arms outstretched. Relax the body, working upwards from the feet. Lie still for a few minutes before getting up slowly.
From Anne Charlish & Angela Robertshaw, Secrets of Reiki, The Ivy Press Limited, 2006.