After talking for years to patients about the importance of breathing using the diaphragm and showing them how to do it in order to get more oxygen into the body and decrease stress and tension in shoulder muscles that is as far as I went. It wasn't until recently that I looked into different breathing techniques to use as a tool during times of stress. My assistant was the one who suggested Coherent Breathing. After reading "The Healing Power of the Breath" by Richard Brown and Patricia Gerbarg and using their instructional CD of ten breathing practices I now know what a difference concentrating on your breathing can do to help one feel better.
Coherent Breathing is about training the body to do 5 breaths per minute. That would be 12 seconds for every breath, 6 seconds inhale, 6 seconds exhale. Depending on who we are, we breath too much when stressed or we actually hold our breath, taking deep sighs at times. So Coherent Breathing is a good technique to use to help us regulate it. The beginning steps of Coherent Breathing are:
1)Breathe through your nose with your eyes closed.
2) Taking your time count slowly and silently in your mind as you breathe in...two...as you breathe out...two...repeat this for 2 breaths.
3) Taking your time count slowly as you breathe in...two...three...as you breathe out...two...three...repeat this for 3 breaths.
4) Taking your time count slowly as you breathe in...two...three..four...as you breathe out...two...three..four...repeat this for 4 breaths.
5) Taking your time count slowly as you breathe in...two...three..four...five...as you breathe out...two...three..four...five...repeat this for 5 breaths.
6) Taking your time count slowly as you breathe in...two...three..four...five...six...as you breathe out...two...three..four...five...six...repeat this for 5 minutes.
When you start with Coherent Breathing it is best to find a quiet space and a comfortable place to sit. Start with 5-10 minutes and work your way up to 30 minutes once or twice a day. Most people feel benefits right away. People notice that their mind feels calmer, less filled with chatter and their bodies feel more relaxed. It can be done right before bed while lying down, just make sure you don't fall asleep! Once you feel comfortable with 5 breaths a minute you no longer have to do the beginning steps.
Besides adding it to your daily routine Coherent Breathing can be used during times of anxiety, right in the moment, if you have practiced it long enough or when having trouble sleeping. You can also do it with your eyes open when taking a walk. There is wonderful Coherent Breathing music you can download that chimes every time you should inhale or exhale.
Sometimes there can be problems when first starting to learn Coherent Breathing such as running out of breath, practicing with your nose stuffed up or if five breaths feels too fast. Information on how to overcome those problems and much more can be found in the book "The Healing Power of the Breath" which I do have a copy at my office for borrowing so just let me know!