Life cannot exist without breath. As our lungs inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, every cell in the body must inhale nutrients and exhale wastes. The quality of our respiratory breath affects every process in the body, down to the cellular level.
Inhale is energizing part of breath, so if you are feeling sluggish, draw in a bit more breath.
Conversely, the exhale promotes relaxation. When you're feeling stressed emphasize your out breath. Be careful not to extend the exhale too long as that can prompt anxiety, particularly if you are high strung like me.
The breath can create a wave inside the body that massages muscles from the inside out, and that's very effective. Without exaggerating, take a slightly bigger inhale and see if you can get all of your ribs to participate. First put your hands under your armpits. Can you feel the ribs move into your hands? Now feel your upper back and get your breath to move there. Take some time to work the breath between your shoulder blades and ribs, where most of us feel a lot of tension.
See if you can direct the wave to all parts of your chest, front, back, sides, top, and bottom. Then relax to let the wave travel further. Can you feel a subtle sensation inch into your pelvis and down your legs, or even down your arms and up your neck?
Here’s another valuable breathing lesson. As you inhale, let the breath gently fill your chest first then move down to soften your belly. Start each exhale with a slight contraction of your pelvic floor. (This is like a Kegel exercise. http://www.rnceus.com/ui/ukegel.html) Then continue the slight contraction from your pubic bone to the navel as you exhale. With the next inhale, let your belly soften again. Continue the cycle of small contraction from the bottom up on exhale and expanding and softening from the top down on inhale.
Just five minutes a day of conscious breathing exercises will improve the baseline for your wellbeing. Here are other exercises you can try:
This site has more information about the breath process and 10 exercises: