Coach Ann Ray

Functional Health Coach

Find Your Center

Move Your Core

Stress Reduction Through Conscious Breathing


Breath is life! The more effectively you use your breathing apparatus the less stress you will hold in your neck, chest, upper back and shoulder girdle. Often we get stuck in the fight or flight response in our autonomic nervous system due to the many stresses of our day. Our breathing is affected by this response and we lose our ability to use the thoracic-cage to its ultimate benefit, often leaving us tight, overwhelmed and short of breath.

Your lungs do not breathe themselves. We should be using our Intercostals (muscles between ribs) and diaphragm. Because of stress, poor posture and improper awareness, our large muscles take over and we start to breathe by raising our shoulders into our ears which tightens the upper back, Scalenes of the neck, and the entire shoulder complex. Over years of sub-par breathing techniques, your whole upper body can pay the price on a physical, emotional and mental level.

Deep three-part breathing (learning to breathe once again with our diaphragm and thoracic cavity) will allow you to reach your rest and digest state in a waking state. This calms your central nervous system, removes tension in your upper body and allows better function of all your organs in the abdominal area.

Try sitting in a comfortable position or lie down. With closed eyes or a soft focus take your attention to your breathing. Watch your body breath itself and notice where your breath travels into your lungs. Do your shoulders rise? Does your belly expand? Begin to take control of your breath and consciously draw your breath to the waistband of your pants. Feel it expand to the front sides and back of your body. Breathe in for 4 counts and breathe out for 4 counts, balancing your breath. Repeat for 10 rounds. Open your eyes and notice if you feel any changes. How do you feel physically, emotionally and mentally?

Practice daily and notice the variety of ways your day can improve. Issues that arise will bother you less. You may sleep better. You may feel less tension in your neck and shoulders. You breathe 30,000 unconscious breaths a day, make 10 of them count, and see how they can make a difference in your overall being.