Our breath is our own unique rhythm. It is one simple way that we can shift our emotional response. There is a lot in this world that we cannot control, our breath is not one of those things. We can choose to be smooth breathers and in turn respond in a similar rhythm.
The control of breath is called 'pranayama'. It is a yogic practice that incorporates physical alignment and breath control. There are various practices to make some profound changes; those should all be done under an experienced instructor.
There are some simple practices that we can do at home with no guidance that will improve our quality of life. Below are a few simple steps towards creating your own smooth rhythm.
1. Find a quiet space to sit / lay with your spine elongated.
2. Close your eyes and observe your breathing. Do not try to change anything about your natural tendencies; simply become aware.
Do you hold your breath after you inhale or exhale?
Are your in breaths the same length as your out breaths?
Do you pause before an inhale or exhale?
Do you make a noise with your throat when you breathe?
Does your breath rate fluctuate as thoughts come to mind?
3. Practice a 'three-breath refresh' with your eyes closed.
Let's try three smooth breaths.
Observe your breath move into the full capacity of your lungs, then smoothly leave the full capacity of your lungs.
Your in and out breath should be the same lengths.
There should be no pause at the top of your inhale or at the bottom of your exhale.
Once you've completed all three, return to your natural rhythm for a few breaths.
4. Open your eyes. As you move through your day, and your emotions shift; revisit the above steps of observation. Evaluate how your breath changes as you respond to situations. The object is to know how your breathing affects how you respond and vice-versa.
5. When a difficult situation arises, lean into your breath as a tool! Before responding, close your eyes and practice step #3. Open your eyes and respond. The intention is to create a balanced response through balanced breathing.
We are humans, we are capable of adapting. Breathing is something that we all do unconsciously, but that we can control consciously. This will come in handy with any high-tension situations and will help you to balance your emotional response and maintain mental clarity.