Breathing exercises are one of the most effective ways of influencing the nervous system. In fact I have heard it said the breath is essentially the remote control for either eliciting relaxation or giving the mind and body a boost.
Here we will look at a simple breathing technique, called belly breath, that you can use anytime or anywhere to bring you into a more relaxed state.
The body cannot be stressed and relaxed at the same time. The gentle extension of the exhale particular can send a signal to the body that it is safe, invoking the relaxation response which is the opposite to the stress response.
Under the relaxation response many of the bodies systems work more optimally and in addition to its calming physical effects, this style of breathing can also help to calm and focus the mind.
You can use this technique to help you come down after a busy day or as part of a sleep routine.
Or to get in the habit of connecting to and using your breath, you may also want to schedule 'breath work' into your day. It is good to link this to an activity such as before each meal. This has the added bonus of eliciting a relaxed state before eating which enables nutrients to be better absorbed.