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Breathing to stay calm and in control

Why Breathe? (Besides to stay alive?!)

Come join us for our parenting series to learn many skills for defusing power struggles and keeping your cool as a parent! We will be discussing and practicing breathing to help us stay calm and in control.

Paying attention to the breath grounds us in the present moment.Slowing and deepening the breath calms the body in a number of ways. Deep breathing in such a way that the belly rises instead of the chest is often called “belly breathing”, “yogic breathing”, or “diaphragmatic breathing”, and has many benefits:

  • Belly breathing engages the parasympathetic nervous system’s calming response and dampens the sympathetic nervous system’s energizing, activating, reactive, emergency response in the body. If we are not in a true emergency, we don’t want to be in an ”emergency” state of reaction.

  • Belly breathing soothes the vagal nerves in our gut, which are the threat detector of the body. If the vagal nerves give a false alarm, as in many anxiety reactions, we can soothe them with belly breathing, informing the body that there is no current emergency. (Check out Stephen Porges, Polyvagal Theory,

Thus, when our body, mind, and emotions are dysregulated/ stirred up/ reacting to stress, we can soothe and calm ourselves through intentionally deep, slow, belly breathing. Exhaling longer than inhaling restores the ratio of carbon dioxide (CO2) to oxygen (O2) for a calming balance, instead of fueling the muscles for fight or flight, or perpetuating the emergency response of the body under stress. This change helps the body relax at the cellular, organ, and muscular levels. (Check out the Buteyko Breathing Method,

Utilize the 4-5-6 Breath to practice breathing to calm the body, mind, and emotions.

· Place your hands on your belly so that you can observe the belly rise as you breathe.

· Imagine the breath inflating a beach ball resting in your hips and pelvis.

· Breathe slowly and evenly as if you were breathing through a straw.

· Extend the out-breath/ exhale longer than the in-breath/ inhale.

o Breathe in for the count of 4

o Breathe out for the count of 5

o Hold the breath out for the count of 6

o Practice three cycles of the 4-5-6 Breath and observe the results.

(Check out my Trauma and Attachment Guide and the Trauma and Attachment Guide for Therapists for more breathing tips.

Please come join us to practice and learn to apply this and other techniques so that you will be able to use them when you need them most. Our parenting series starts Thurs April 27 at 6:30. Register at

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