Neurorelaxation for Patients

Steps to Learning to Use Breathing to Calm your ANS

  • You have just completed the assessment of your current breathing pattern
  • Do you understand the difference between a chest and a diaphragmatic breather?
  • Regardless of where you are starting from, you will be able to achieve deep diaphragmatic breathing to calm your nervous system with daily practice
  • Write any observations you made about your breathing below
Activate Diaphragmatic Breathing
  • If you are a chest breather, you will first have to transform your breathing pattern so it starts with the diaphragmatic muscle pulling air to the bottom of your lungs
  • Start with the Basic and Foundational breathing exercises shown you. Training yourself to belly breathe is easier if you do all your breathing exercises lying down at first. It is much easier to feel the abdominal movement you are generating.
  • Place your hands on your abdomen and chest every practice to "feel" your breaths
  • Good belly breathing technique is important. Keep these two points in mind:
  • o   on the inhale focus on moving your abdomen out at the very start of your breath
  • o   on the exhale purse your lips (like blowing through a straw) and blow out slowly
  • Proper breathing is one of the BASIC relaxation techniques that you will learn.  Spend the time to get it right. DO NOT SKIP THROUGH THIS STEP!
  • §  Learn to breathe diaphragmatically while lying down at first; then when you are standing and finally when you are seated or going about your daily activities
Better AwarenEss of your Breathing Pattern through A REGULAR BREATHING EXERCISE ROUTINE
  • Once you are able to start each breath into the abdomen, use all the training exercises on Breathing Awareness and Confidence levels to add variety to your practice.
  • Do only as many minutes as you are comfortable doing. Gradually build up to doing 5 minutes of steady practice.
  • Once you are familiar with the exercises, establish a daily routine by training your breathing THREE TIMES A DAY for 5 minutes each.
  • Find your best time and make this a routine part of your everyday daily life.  The better you become at diaphragmatic breathing the lower your stress levels will be.
  • Find a daily rhythm that starts to FEEL enjoyable and relaxing for you.
Sustained Effortless Rhythmic Breathing
  • Slow your breath rate down to five breaths a minute each time you practice
  • Continue breath training three times a day, extending one practice session up to 15 min.
  • Add to your practice gradually, so you are always relaxed and comfortable throughout your breathing practice time.
  • You should notice a state of deep calm coming over you within minutes of starting
  • Also feel free to mix up the training exercises so you are more aware of different aspects of your breathing mechanics and the muscles you are using to breathe
  • Try a new exercise once every few days - this allows you to reflect on your experience
  • By the end of this stage you will be able to mentally focus your attention on your abdomen while breathing and feel it moving up and down without using your hands
Engaging your Thoracic Pump
  • The "Thoracic Pump" refers to the effective and coordinated use of all breathing muscles (naturally breathing deeply and effortlessly all through the day's activities)
  • A daily 15-minutes rhythmic breathing session, maintained for two months, resets hyperarousal and creates a state of NeuroRelaxation
  • You can further strengthen the respiratory muscles by training them when exercising, for example nasal breathing while walking or cycling
  • Whenever you notice a particularly stressful point in the day (in the car, at work, or before meetings) do a few minutes of breathing to create a deeper state of relaxation

Your Next Action Steps -- Diaphragmatic Breathing


§  Practice 5 deep breaths hourly, or as often as possible

§  In the first week use the links to the videos so you start with good technique

  • ake only 5-10 deep breaths focusing on engaging the diaphragm with each breath

§  DO NOT go longer than 10 breaths for any practice session this week

§  Whenever possible do the breathing lying down (it’s easier at the beginning)

§  Remember to exhale as completely as you can with each breath: this pushes the diaphragm up and engages it more completely for the next in-breath

§  These sessions may feel somewhat difficult at first because you are re-training muscles that have not worked this way for a long time

§  Do not overdo exercises on (signs are sore muscles, cramping, or spasms)


§   Find 3 times across your day to practice breathing for up to 5 minutes each time

§   Start with the videos in the Focus on Breath Awareness section

§   Stop each practice session when you feel tired or uncomfortable

§   DO NOT go longer than 5 minutes for any practice session the first week

§   Whenever possible do the breathing lying down (it’s easier at the beginning

§   Start with Moving your Marker exercise (the “marker” is the hand on your belly)

§   Remember to exhale as completely as you can with each breath: this pushes the diaphragm up and engages it more completely for the next in-breath

§   Videos: watch all of the videos in section C at least once

§   These sessions may feel somewhat difficult at first, because you are training  muscles that you may not have been using regularly, but do not overdo it (signs of overdoing it are sore muscles, cramping, or spasms)

Learn about our upcoming  Neurorelaxation Online Program!


If you have any serious medical challenges: for example you have been diagnosed with a respiratory disease (like COPD), hernia, or cancer, please consult with your physician BEFORE you start with ANY of the exercises in A Better You. Ask your physician whether there is any reason that you should not do the active breathing exercises. Even when the physician gives you the green light to do the exercises, you may need to modify exercises so you do not aggravate any symptoms you may have in the first weeks of practice.

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