SLOW BREATHING EXERCISE
Most people breathe on average around twelve to eighteen breaths per minute. When we are stressed, this can increase to about twenty to forty-five breaths per minute. I slow my breathing down to four breaths per minute, to prevent or to reduce stress. It feels great.
While there are many breathing exercises, I’m going to teach you my technique–the exhale is twice as long as the inhale. I use this technique because it also helps strengthen vocal power–that’s a whole new blog post, but in a nutshell, it helps you to avoid running out of air mid-sentence.
Don’t go lower than four breaths per minute as it can have adverse effects. Five or six breaths per minute are also very effective. At first, it may feel like a challenge if you aren’t used to slow breathing. If you find it too much of a challenge, or if you have asthma, try breathing slowly but at a rate that works for you.
I usually set aside ten minutes for this before a speaking gig. Often, I do it on the train, and then as I get off, I feel like I’m floating on a bed of calm. Life feels wonderful, even though I’m about to go into a situation, which otherwise, would feel stressful. Some people take drugs, I breathe.
I try to maintain slower than normal breathing once I’m there, without counting the pace. If I find my stress levels start to increase, which sometimes happens when I’m early and have to wait around, I take myself to the bathroom to breathe (and power-pose).
If you only have two minutes to spare, breathe like this and you’ll still gain the benefits.
The breathing technique and patterns are explained below.