Welcome to week 3 of Monday Meditation! This week we’re going to practice belly breathing (a.k.a. abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing).

Belly breathing is fantastic at helping to put your body into a parasympathetic state (“rest and digest”). This means slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, better digestion, and reduced stress and anxiety.

Especially if you are new to belly breathing I recommend beginning by laying flat on your back (you can bend your knees if that’s more comfortable). Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly.

Gently close your eyes.

Without changing anything begin to observe your breath. Let go of any judgements.

Are you breathing deep or shallow? Does your chest move? Do your ribs expand? Does your belly move? Is the air warm or cool?

Feel your breath coming in through both nostrils and visualize it moving all the way down into the belly. Let the belly expand with the in breath. As you exhale feel the belly relax.

Continue breathing this way directing the breath into the belly letting it expand fully, then releasing the breath slowing letting the belly relax. Breathing in to a count of four and out to a count of 4 (if you would like to lengthen the breath you can count to 6 or 8).

As you begin feeling comfortable with expanding the abdomen notice if you can feel the ribs and back expand. Feeling your back gently press into the earth as your abdomen expands with your in breath.

Allow a sense of calm to wash over your entire body. Feeling grounded and refreshed. Notice how the deepening of your breath has oxygenated your body giving you more energy and clarity.

As you move through your week pay attention to your breath. If you find yourself breathing shallowly into the chest, feeling stressed or anxious return to belly breathing.