Here is a brilliant, simple and effective exercise to deal with nerves and tension when speaking, leading and living. And it is the cornerstone for becoming more present, and cultivating an inner peace.
The goal of this exercise is to train the body to breath with the belly automatically.
Sit comfortably or stand in a neutral position. I call this being centred. Starting from the top of your head, move your awareness slowly down through your body, noticing and releasing any tension.
Lay one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest, so you can notice where your breath is. When we sit or stand our habit is to breathe up in the chest. If you have trouble feeling the breath in the belly, imagine you’re breathing through a straw. Try inhaling through your nose.
You can also experiment with filling your entire lung capacity, breathing into both the belly and the chest. Imagine your inhalation is like filling a glass with water, beginning from the bottom – the lowest part of the belly – and filling to the top – the top of the chest. Once you’ve taken this very big breath in, try letting it out on a big sigh of relief.
Finally, return to your regular breathing, just noticing the rise and fall of the belly with your breath.
The best way to become a natural belly-breather is to undertake a two to three week daily practice. Since it’s easiest to locate belly breathing when lying down you can take two minutes before you go to sleep at night and when you wake up in the morning. Just place your hands placed on your belly and on your chest and do the exercise above. After a couple of weeks you’ll notice yourself naturally breathing this way as you go about your day.