Breathing exercises • Balanced breathing for relaxation in pregnancy is an excellent way of preparing mentally for labour, birth and mothering. • Find a comfortable chair that allows you to sit upright with your spine straight and feet on the floor - it is best not to lounge backward while doing balanced breathing. • Close your eyes, let your mind rest, and place the thumb of your right hand beside your right nostril, your two middle fingers beside your left nostril. • To perform the exercise, gently close one nostril, then the other, as you breathe normally. • To keep your arm, from getting tired, it helps to tuck your right elbow in close to your ribs, but don’t prop it up on your chair or on a table. • Begin each breath on the exhale and finish on the inhale - this is different from most breathing exercises, which begin by taking in a deep breath. The basic rhythm of balanced breathing is as follows: • Gently close the right nostril with your thumb and slowly exhale through your left nostril. • Inhale easily through your left nostril. • Close the left nostril with the two middle fingers and exhale out of the right nostril. • Inhale easily through the right nostril. • Alternate nostrils for 5 minutes. Then lower your arm and sit back comfortably with eyes closed for 1 or 2 minutes. • In balanced breathing, you do not need to take deep breaths - just let your breathing come naturally but a little slower and deeper than usual. • If at any time you feel like breathing through your mouth, go ahead, then return to the exercise as soon as you feel comfortable again. • You might find your nose blocking up initially, but this phase will soon pass.
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