Take a moment right now to notice your breathing. Is your breath frozen? Are you breathing shallowly into your chest? Is your breath moving fully and freely in and out of your relaxed abdomen? There are no right or wrong answers. Just notice, without judgment, how you’re breathing.

I once decided that I was going to count all the times during a day that I held my breath. Within a few minutes I realized that I might be counting all day. I had a very prominent pattern of holding my breath, then taking a few tiny little sips of air, then holding my breath again--especially when I was around people.

We often hold our breath to avoid feeling anger, fear, sadness or sexual feelings, to keep a lid on our excitement and joy, and to limit the spontaneous flow of aliveness in our bodies. You might also notice yourself holding your breath when someone is speaking to you, when you’re concentrating or when you’re moving your body.

The moment you shift your awareness to the quality of your breath, you can make another life-changing shift. If your breathing feels frozen in any way, pat your belly with your hand a few times. This brings your awareness to your stomach muscles and reminds them to relax.

Then take slow, easy breaths in and out of your soft belly (inhaling and exhaling through your nose or mouth). This healthy way of breathing allows you to enjoy your full lung capacity--and can open a flow of well-being inside of you in just a few seconds.

The next time you find yourself holding your breath, make the simple shift into healthy breathing again. Your whole body will relax and you’ll feel alive and clear again.

Author's Bio: 

Since 1995, Gregory Newman, M.S. (www.bodycenteredcoach.com) has coached individuals and couples in body-centered skills that have made it easier for their lives, relationships and careers to blossom. Greg coaches over-the-phone and in-person and can be reached at 608-274-6962 or greg@bodycenteredcoach.com