Once you have developed an awareness of your breath and how you are breathing you can begin to develop control. A common problem that many people have is a dependance on the “accessory muscles” or muscles of the neck and shoulders to breathe. This type of breathing increases neck and shoulder tension, reduces the amount of oxygen obtained with each breath and further perpetuates feelings of stress.
In order to overcome this problem it is necessary to focus on relaxing the throat, neck & diaphragm and focus on gently breathing with the lower abdomen. A good way to practice this technique is to add it to a cardio workout such as walking or running. Begin with a slower pace and focus on gently breathing in and out through the nose. Once you have developed a rythm you can slowly increas the work load by increasing your pace. When the breathing becomes difficult instead of trying to force more air through your nose, simply begin exhaling through your mouth to expel the additional CO2. Try to maintain breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth for the duration of the workout. As the workout is coming to a close and you are decreasing the load try to return to the gentle breathing in and out through the nose as you warm down.
Practice this technique regularly and you will see a significant increase in your cardiovascular stamina and a reduction in your perception of stress due to the deep meditative properties of diaphragmatic breathing.