Breathing technique

Breathing techniques to achieve relaxation

The relaxation is one of the psychological intervention strategies most used in current clinical practice within them are the techniques based on breath control.

Breathing control

Techniques based on breath controlThey are inspired by the breathing exercises of Yoga and Zen Buddhism. Popularized by Benson, their objective is to facilitate voluntary control of breathing and automate that control so that it can be maintained even in the most stressful situations. They are easy to learn and can be used in any situation to control physiological activation. These relaxation techniques are based on the value of correct breathing, since current living conditions often favor the development of inappropriate habits: incorrect postures, Clothes, life rhythms and especially stressful situations facilitate breathing patterns characterized by an accelerated rhythm and a low intensity, with partial and more shallow breathing, which causes less oxygenation of the tissues, greater cardiac work and greater intoxication of the organism, with the consequent physical fatigue, anxiety, depression, etc. Hence, a more adequate control of respiration is one of the simplest strategies to cope with stressful situations and favor the body, modulating excessive physiological activation.

Theories that explain its effectiveness

Different theories have been put forward to explain its efficacy: some, focused on the assumption that increased diaphragmatic respiration causes parasympathetic activation and induces a normal trophotrophic state, others, focused on the control of hypercapnia. Various authors (Ballentine, 1976, Hirai, 1975, Everly, 1989) support the efficacy of breathing techniques in controlling the parasympathetic response. Others such as Lichstein (1988) argue that the relaxing effects of breathing exercises are due to the increase in CO2 levels in the blood, which can be produced either by the retention of breath (decreased respiratory rate) or by hypoventilation. Increased levels of CO2 are associated with a decrease in heart rate, peripheral vasodilation, Stimulation of gastric secretions, depression of cortical activity and a general feeling of drowsiness, that is, a slight hypercapnia would produce parasympathomimetic effects, although higher levels produce sympathetic activation and can even have lethal effects. The cognitive perspective, according to which voluntary control of breathing prevents the development and maintenance of obsessive thoughts and even compulsive behaviors or simply facilitates the person to disconnect from worries and stressful thoughts. Regarding specificity as a relaxation method, Lichstein writes: “Most relaxation methods seek to control autonomic responses by indirect means, such as the musculature, the imagination, etc. Relaxation through breathing is the only direct entry point into the autonomic nervous system. There are a wide variety of breath control exercises and many of them are combined with hypnosis and relaxation techniques. Labrador et al recommend a program of 6 exercises, of 2-4 minutes each, with equal rest time. The breathing techniques proposed by Davis, McKay and Eshelman are well known and have been useful for controlling anxiety and muscle tension. Chóliz has proposed a breathing procedure for the treatment of insomnia based on the slight increase in carbon dioxide. Carrió et al use slow breathing training, combined with cognitive therapy, to treat anxiety disorders. There are a wide variety of breath control exercises and many of them are combined with hypnosis and relaxation techniques. Labrador et al recommend a program of 6 exercises, of 2-4 minutes each, with equal rest time. The breathing techniques proposed by Davis, McKay and Eshelman are well known and have been useful for controlling anxiety and muscle tension. Chóliz has proposed a breathing procedure for the treatment of insomnia based on the slight increase in carbon dioxide. Carrió et al use slow breathing training, combined with cognitive therapy, to treat anxiety disorders. There are a wide variety of breath control exercises and many of them are combined with hypnosis and relaxation techniques. Labrador et al recommend a program of 6 exercises, of 2-4 minutes each, with equal rest time. The breathing techniques proposed by Davis, McKay and Eshelman are well known and have been useful for controlling anxiety and muscle tension. Chóliz has proposed a breathing procedure for the treatment of insomnia based on the slight increase in carbon dioxide. Carrió et al use slow breathing training, combined with cognitive therapy, to treat anxiety disorders. with equal rest time. The breathing techniques proposed by Davis, McKay and Eshelman are well known and have been useful for controlling anxiety and muscle tension. Chóliz has proposed a breathing procedure for the treatment of insomnia based on the slight increase in carbon dioxide. Carrió et al use slow breathing training, combined with cognitive therapy, to treat anxiety disorders. with equal rest time. The breathing techniques proposed by Davis, McKay and Eshelman are well known and have been useful for controlling anxiety and muscle tension. Chóliz has proposed a breathing procedure for the treatment of insomnia based on the slight increase in carbon dioxide. Carrió et al use slow breathing training, combined with cognitive therapy, to treat anxiety disorders.

Exercises to control breathing

De Labrador et al

  • ) Abdominal inspiration
  • ) Abdominal and ventral inspiration
  • 3rd) Abdominal, ventral and costal inspiration
  • ) Expiration
  • ) Inspiration-expiration rhythm
  • ) Overgeneralization

Step 1

  • Objective: Learn to direct the breath to the lower part of the lungs.

Place one hand on your belly (below the navel) and one on your stomach, so that you can better perceive the effects of each inspiration-expiration cycle), try to direct the air in each inspiration to fill the lower part of your lungs, which should cause the hand placed on the lower part of the belly to move, but not the one placed on the stomach.This is the exercise in which people find the most difficulty since it is the least used aspect of breathing. Instructions such as “pump the lower part of the torso against the pants” or “direct the air to the lowest possible part of the torso” can be used. Each small advance should be reinforced and insist that breathing is not forced or made faster, indicating that it is about breathing with the usual intensity, but worrying about directing the air to the lower part of the lungs and in the bodily sensations that this produces. The duration can be from 2 to 4 minutes

Step 2

  • Objective: Learn to direct air to the lower and middle part of the lungs.

In the position already described, first direct the air to the lower part, as in the previous exercise and later, in the same inspiration, but marking a different time, direct the air to the middle part, now noting how the area of ​​your body under your hand that is on your stomach. If the previous exercise was mastered properly, this should not be too difficult, however, it is advisable to insist that the inspiration be done in two times. As in the previous case, the duration of the exercise is 2 to 4 minutes and must be repeated 3 or 4 times, with a rest interval between them.

Step 3

  • Objective: Take a full inspiration

Placed in the usual posture, direct the air first to the belly area, then to the stomach area and finally to the chest. It is important to do three different times in inspiration, one for each zone. It is also important to remember that inspiration should not be forced, so it is advisable not to exaggerate the amount of air that is directed to each area in order not to have to force pectoral inspiration. The duration is similar to the previous ones

Step 4

  • Objective:Carry out a full expiration

In the proper posture, carry out the inspiration as in the previous exercise and after that, focus on the expiration so that you can make it more complete and thus contribute more efficiently to the breath. The exhalation should be done with the lips closed to produce a faint noise (a kind of hiss), in this way you can regulate that the exhalation is slow and constant, not abrupt.At the end of the exhalation it is convenient to whistle and raise the shoulders to help remove the part of air in the upper area of ​​the lungs.

Step 5

  • Objective: Learn an adequate respiratory alternation

Very similar to the previous one since it implies inspiration and complete expiration, but now it goes one step further: inspiration even when maintaining the usual route (ventral, stomach, pectoral) is no longer done in three different times, if not in a continuous one. For the rest, expiration is similar to that of the previous exercise, being able to substitute whistling and exhaling loudly, to go to a completely normal respiratory cycle. It is advisable to be careful that the exercise continues to maintain ventral inspiration

Step 6

  • Objective:Overgeneralization

Once breathing is controlled under favorable conditions, one must learn to use it under normal conditions. For this, the fifth exercise is repeated in different positions and situations. It can be started in the sitting posture, then standing, then walking, etc. It is also practiced with the eyes open, while doing another task, etc. Finally, it is practiced in other environmental conditions such as noise, the presence of other people, etc. The patient must reproduce in these circumstances the sensations he experienced when the training was carried out in optimal conditions.

Davis et al (1985) techniques

  • Complete natural breathing:

This exercise is an abbreviated variant of the previous one and is also intended to teach the person to achieve the so-called complete breathing. Resting in a comfortable position; breathe through the nose, first filling the lower lungs and pressing the abdomen out; then the middle part of the lungs expanding the lower thorax and ribs and finally the upper part of the lungs, raising the chest and contracting the abdomen (smooth and continuous inhalation in 3 steps and then slowly exhaling relaxing the thorax and abdomen).

  • Deep breathing:

For people who may have difficulties to carry out full breathing, another variant of the previous exercise in which the body posture is modified is: lying down, with bent knees and feet slightly apart, spine straight, one hand on abdomen and one on thorax ; take air through the nose and make it reach the abdomen, inhale again and expel it through the mouth with a soft and relaxing sound; use this mode in stressful situations.

  • Breathing through sighing:

This exercise is very easy to perform and can be applied in any circumstance of daily life, achieving relaxation and calming effects of moderate intensity, but very quickly. It can be used to increase the sense of self-control of people who feel particularly insecure and anxious about situations they must face such as a job interview, a medical procedure, etc. Standing or sitting; he sighs deeply, making a sound of deep relief as the air comes out. Especially effective in times of great stress.

Importance of these techniques

Due to its simplicity and effectiveness, breathing techniques can be used in multiple situations and clinical problems, either alone or in combination with other relaxation techniques, hypnosis, music therapy, etc.

 

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