Santa Claus seems to know a thing or two about relaxation because breathing from the belly is a great way to reduce stress. Santa Claus probably had to learn all about stress management to be able to function. Can you imagine the stress involved in delivering billions of gifts in one single night, not to mention that many houses don’t have chimneys anymore?
Actually, I don’t know for certain if Santa Claus breathes from the belly. I’m usually asleep when he comes. But I do know that Santa Claus is the king of the belly laugh. He places his hands on his spacious belly and goes “HO, HO, HO!” Try a Santa Claus belly laugh right now. Just place both hands on your belly and go “HO, HO, HO!” If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, “It’s August and I’m getting in the mood for the holidays.”
Breathing from the belly is dear to my heart because for much of my life I was a person who carried around a high level of stress. Part of my high level of stress was due to the fact that I did not understand how breathing from the belly can deepen a breath and help a person relax. Actually until starting to participate in yoga four years ago, I gave little thought to the way I breathed. I had of course heard the expression, “take a deep breath,” but I didn’t think it actually made much of a difference. I mean, I breathed the way I breathed and that was that. But I can tell you that learning to breathe deeply from the belly has made a huge difference in my life.
Deep breathing is, of course, good to do in crisis situations like when we are stuck in traffic 12:58 PM and have a meeting we desperately need to get to at 1:00 PM.
However, one of the biggest things I learned is that the phrase, “take a deep breath” isn’t just wisdom for situations when we already feel stressed out. The huge benefit I have gotten from belly breathing has come from practicing it when I’m not in crisis situations. For example, lying in bed before you drift off to sleep is a very good and restful time to practice belly breathing. Simply place your hands on your belly and focus on inflating your belly like a balloon when you breathe in and letting your belly deflate when you exhale.
Participating in yoga, laughter yoga or practicing with a video on abdominal breathing from the web can help you get the hang of belly breathing. Also, whenever you think about it during the day, consciously try to send your breath down to your belly. Let your belly inflate as you inhale and deflate as you exhale.
Once you practice belly breathing for a while, you will begin to feel generally more relaxed. This is a very exciting time because I have found that being more relaxed is not only more comfortable, but also that we have a tendency to create less stressful situations in our lives.
For example, feeling more relaxed, we may naturally remember before we leave home that the interstate sometimes gets packed over noon rush hour. So, we choose an alternate route and arrive to our important meeting five minutes early, relaxed and laughing like Santa Claus.
Game of the Day
- Have fun practicing belly breathing in whatever way works best for you.
2. Laugh like Santa Claus at least twice today.