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Kansas State University

Deep Breathing Exercise

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Counseling Services
Kansas State University

When getting ready to practice relaxation, assume a sitting position so that your body can remain relaxed for the entire exercise. A position that will allow you to be comfortable and remain awake is to sit in a chair with your back rather straight. Place your feet flat on the floor and let your hands rest comfortable in your lap.

Take a deep breath. As you slowly let it out, let your eyes close and your body relax as much as possible right now.

This form of relaxation is designed to help you breathe away fatique and breathe in new energy. Using this technique, you can learn to relax quickly and deeply with just a few slow, deep breaths.

In this exercise, I will direct you to focus on the sensations coming from a particular part of your body. Maintain your attention on that area of your body and allow yourself to become aware of all the feelings - temperature, texture of clothes, pressure against the floor or chair, blood pumping.

Then, I will ask you to breathe in slowly and deeply. And, as you breathe in, imagine all those sensations from that particular part of your body flowing up into your lungs. And then as you exhale imagine all those sensations being released from your body. Exhale them along with your breath. You may exhale through your mouth or your nose, whichever seems best to you. The sequence of the relaxation exercise will continue through your whole body, breathing it away, part by part, and erasing with it the tensions embeded in your body.

Right now, focus your attention on all the sensations you can feel in your feet. Be aware of the sensations in your toes, heels and under your arch. Notice the feelings of clothing, pressure against the floor, temperature, specific muscles and any other sensations that you are aware of. Let your eyes remain relaxed and closed as you very quietly attend to all the sensations that you feel in your feet.

Now, breathe in slowly and deeply. As you do, imagine all those sensations in your feet rising up into your lungs. As you exhale, let all those sensations from your feet be expelled from your lungs.

Let's try that again. Focus on the sensations that you are still aware of in your feet. Now, breathe in slowly and deeply, bringing all those sensations from your feet up into your lungs. And, as you exhale, release all those feelings with the air that you expell. Good. Just continue relaxing deeper and deeper.

Now, direct your attention on the area from your ankles to your knees. Become aware of the sensations coming from your calves and your shin area. Be aware of all the internal and external feelings from your ankles to your knees. Let all these sensations be the only feelings that you are aware of. And, as you breathe in a little more deeply and a little more fully, bring all those sensations up into your lungs and, then, exhale them out of your body. They're gone. Allow your breathing to be naturally relaxed again.

Now, focus on the sensations from your knees to your hips. Become aware of the sensations. Focus on the sensations coming from your upper legs and buttocks as they make contact with the chair. Now, breathe in deeply and slowly as you bring those sensations up into your lungs. And then, release them as you exhale. Feel yourself drift down to an even deeper level of relaxation.

Focus your attention on the area of your stomach. Be aware of all the feelings coming from inside and outside your stomach and the small of your back. Maintain your mental focus on these sensations. Slowly, now, breathe in deeply as you imagine those sensations filling your lungs. Exhale and see the area of your stomach flowing out as you exhale. Just continue now relaxing more and more.

If you find that your mind wanders as you relax deeper and deeper, just bring your mental focus back to your breathing or to your heart beating.

Now, focus your attention on the area of your chest. Feel all the sensations . . . your heart beating, your breathing. Now, breathe in very slowly and deeply, bringing all those sensations into your lungs. And, now, exhale them away. Relax, letting any left-over tensions slip away.

Gently focus your attention on the sensations coming from your hands. Let yourself be aware of only those sensations from the tips of your fingers up to your wrists. Notice the feelings of touch as well as temperature in your hands. Remember to allow your eyes and forehead to remain relaxed as you gently focus your attention on the different parts of your body. Now, breathe in slowly and deeply bringing the sensations from your hands up into your lungs. Exhale and relax as these feelings are released and erased from your body.

Maintain your attention on the area from your wrists to your shoulders. Be aware of all the internal sensations from your arms as well as the external sensations of touch or pressure that are there. Now, as you breathe in slowly and deeply, allow those sensations to flow up into your lungs and then exhale, dispelling them from your body.

Now, as you are going through this relaxation exercise, perhaps you can almost imagine and visualize that your body is being erased as you exhale away each part. Allow the relaxation to cleanse the fatigue and tension from your body.

Now, focus your attention on your neck. Notice the feelings coming from your throat, vocal cords and all the parts of your neck. Now, as you breathe in, imagine those sensations rising up into your mind. And exhale, feeling those sensations leave your body. Allow yourself to float effortlessly in a state of being deeply relaxed.

Direct your awareness to all the sensations coming from your head and face. Those sensations coming from your jaws, your tongue and your ears. Also, be aware of the feelings of your eyes, your scalp as well as the sensations of taste and odor. Any tightness or fullness in your head. Focus on all the different sensations and let your only thought be of the feelings coming from your head and face. Now breathe in slowly and deeply. Imagine letting all these sensations shrink together. Then, as you exhale, they are leaving and going away.

Imagine all the thoughts that keep crossing your mind as coming together. Roll them up into a ball. Pack it so the ball is smaller and smaller. As you breathe in slowly and deeply, imagine all those distracting thoughts forming even a smaller ball. Then, as you exhale, all the distracting thoughts disappear.

Perhaps there may be one or two sensations that you still are experiencing in your body. Focus your attention on these specific sensations. Bring all these sensations together as you breathe in, and then exhale so that now your body is completely cleared. It's much as if you were erasing the picture of your body. Just enjoy this state of deep relaxation as you allow your self to relax more and more deeply.

And now, while you are deeply relaxed, perhaps you can think of something you would like to change about yourself. If there is something you wish to change, just imagine or visualize yourself improving, becoming better at it and know that you will change. When we are deeply relaxed, it's often easier to see a change take place and to be more receptive to change as a result of being relaxed. Now, let the image fade and just continue relaxing.

Now, visualize pure energy flowing all around you.

Now, see that energy flowing into your body so that it's filling your body. Allow the energy to pour inside you, filling your body. It's strong, clean energy flowing inside your body, and your body is becoming very full. You feel strong, very refreshed, inside and out. This energy will stay with you and you will know that you can return to it whenever you wish.

Now, as you sit there in the chair, begin to breathe in a little more deeply and a little more fully. As you breathe, see your breathing as an exchange of energy. Each time you breathe in, you replenish the fresh energy in your body. As you exhale, you clean and clear out the energy you've used up.

Feel yourself becoming more active and more energized. Begin to move your fingers, your feet, and toes. Begin to move your arms and legs. Prepare your body to become active again. And, whenever you are ready, go ahead and open your eyes.

In order to use this new skill, you will need to practice a quick, mini version of this technique. Try, every hour or so through the day this week, to take a long, slow breath in. As you do so, imagine yourself gathering up all those tensions in your body. Then, exhale them. With practice, you might be able to gather all the tensions in two or three inhalations or, possibly, even in one inhalation and dispell them with your exhalation. Have fun seeing how much of the body you can cover with each inhalation. Practice will help you increase the effectiveness, so practice this several times during the day.

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