Intentional Breathing Techniques (IBT)

Intentional breathing techniques change the brain in at least four key ways. These brain changes help people reduce and better manage stress.

1. The Amygdala is the fear center of the brain. Deactivation of this area reduces stress response, AKA sympathetic nervous system arousal.

2. The Insula is the interoception center of the brain. With a more regulated insula, individuals experience fewer emotional outbursts and dissociative symptoms.

3. The Prefrontal Cortex is the thinking center of the brain. Increased activation helps with concentration, self-awareness, and awareness of others.

4. The Cingulate is the self-regulation center of the brain. Increased activation helps with emotion regulation and decision- making.

IBT #1: Diaphragmatic Breathing

Sitting or lying down: Place your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your chest. Inhale slowly, allowing your diaphragm to fill with air.

As you exhale, breathe through your nose, and allow the air to exit your diaphragm slowly. Elongate the exhale so that it is longer than your inhale.

You should see your left hand moving as your belly expands and your right hand staying still on your chest.

Continue for 30 seconds to one minute. 

IBT #2: Diaphragmatic Breathing with Visualization 

Inhale fully. Next, hold your breath for a slow count of five.  Finally, begin to exhale slowly and fully for a slow count of five or (even eight, if your anxiety is particularly high.)

As you continue this sequence, begin to visualize these counts as forming the outline of an upside-down triangle.

broken image

On each inhale visualize a line moving upward and to the side. When you hold the breath visualize a line going straight across.

As you exhale visualize the line moving down, creating a point where the first line began.

Repeat this sequence for 30 seconds to one minute.

IBT #3: Balanced Breath

Begin with the Five-Count Breath technique.

While holding your inhale, press on your right nostril. Exhale through the left nostril slowly and fully for a count of five.

Breath in through your mouth and repeat, this time pressing on your left nostril, breathing out through the right.

Repeat this sequence for 30 seconds to one minute.