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Breathe Easier: Tai Chi Inspired Techniques

Holiday shopping and parties have you huffing and puffing around town? We recommend that you take some deep breaths instead and find time to relax. A Tai Chi researcher recommended we practice these breathing and relaxation techniques from Ramel (Rami) Rones, Mind & Body Consultant at Mind Body Consulting Therapies Inc. and Brian Muccio, Owner and Trainer at Body Movement Solutions in Roslindale, MA.

Breath Counting

This is a deceptively simple breathing technique much used in meditation practice.

Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight and head inclined slightly forward. Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then let the breath come naturally without trying to influence it. Ideally it will be quiet and slow, but depth and rhythm may vary.

  • To begin the exercise, count “one” to yourself as you exhale. 
  • The next time you exhale, count “two,” and so on up to “five.” 
  • Then begin a new cycle, counting “one” on the next exhalation. 

Never count higher than “five,” and count only when you exhale. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself up to “eight,” “12,” even “19.”

Try to do 10 minutes of this form of meditation.

Abdominal Breathing Technique

With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs. The goal: Six to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day to experience immediate reductions to heart rate and blood pressure. This is best done seated in the beginning.


Progressive Relaxation

To relieve stress from head to toe, close the eyes and focus on tensing and relaxing each muscle group for two to three seconds each. Start with the feet and toes, then move up to the knees, thighs, glutes, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw, and eyes—all while maintaining deep, slow breaths. Having trouble staying on track? If so, breathe in through the nose, hold for a count of 5, while the muscles tense, then breathe out through the mouth on release. 

One word of caution: Dizziness is never the goal. If holding the breath ever feels uncomfortable, tone it down to just a few seconds. This is best done seated in the beginning.

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