Take a deep breath in. Now let it out. You may notice a difference in how you feel already. Your breath is a powerful tool to ease stress and make you feel less anxious. Some simple breathing exercises can make a big difference if you make them part of your regular routine.

Before you get started, keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose a place to do your breathing exercise. It could be in your bed, on your living room floor, or in a comfortable chair.
  • Don’t force it. This can make you feel more stressed.
  • Try to do it at the same time once or twice a day.

Many breathing exercises take only a few minutes. When you have more time, you can do them for 10 minutes or more to get even greater benefits.

 

1. Deep Breathing

We will start with the easiest exercise. It might seem super easy and natural to you. But you will be surprised on how many occasions you are not doing this. Because most people take short, shallow breaths into their chest. It can make you feel anxious and zap your energy. With this technique, you’ll learn how to take bigger breaths, all the way into your belly.

  1. Get comfortable. You can lie on your back in bed or on the floor with a pillow under your head and knees. Or you can sit in a chair with your shoulders, head, and neck supported against the back of the chair.
  2. Breathe in through your nose. Let your belly fill with air.
  3. Breathe out through your nose.
  4. Now place one hand on your belly. Place the other hand on your chest.
  5. As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your belly should move more than the one that’s on your chest.
  6. Take three more full, deep breaths. Breathe fully into your belly as it rises and falls with your breath.

2. Breath Focus

In this exercise we are adding a visualisation to incorporate also other parts of your brain. This will deepen the experience. So give it a try!

While you do deep breathing, use a picture in your mind and a word or phrase to help you feel more relaxed.

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Take a few big, deep breaths.
  3. Breathe in. As you do that, imagine that the air is filled with a sense of peace and calm. Try to feel it throughout your body.
  4. Breathe out. While you’re doing it, imagine that the air leaves with your stress and tension.
  5. Now use a word or phrase with your breath. As you breathe in, say in your mind, “I breathe in peace and calm.”
  6. As you breathe out, say in your mind, “I breathe out stress and tension.”
  7. Continue for 10 to 20 minutes.

3. Morning breathing

In this exercise we are using the body as a way to access the brain. Again to deepen the experience. Try this exercise when you first get up in the morning to relieve muscle stiffness and clear clogged breathing passages. Then use it throughout the day to relieve back tension.

  1. From a standing position, bend forward from the waist with your knees slightly bent, letting your arms dangle close to the floor.
  2. As you inhale slowly and deeply, return to a standing position by rolling up slowing, lifting your head last. Feel a slight contraction in the belly.
  3. Hold your breath for just a few seconds in this standing position.
  4. Exhale slowly as you return to the original position, bending forward from the waist. Gentle contracting your belly to protect your lower back.
  5. If you feel a bit dizzy, go slow and steady. you will get used to it.
  6. Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.

4. Lengthen Your Exhale

Inhaling deeply may not always calm you down. Taking a deep breath in is actually linked to the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight-or-flight response. But exhaling is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, which influences our body’s ability to relax and calm down.When we feel anxious or under stress, it’s easier to breathe too much and end up hyperventilating — even if we’re trying to do the opposite.

  1. Before you take a big, deep breath, try a thorough exhale instead. Push all the air out of your lungs, then simply let your lungs do their work inhaling air.
  2. Next, try spending a little bit longer exhaling than you do inhaling. For example, try inhaling for four seconds, then exhale for six or maybe even 8 seconds. But don’t force it too much, just allow the exhales to be long…like a wave
  3. Try doing this for two to five minutes.

This technique can be done in any position that’s comfortable for you, including standing, sitting, or lying down.

5. Alternate Nostril Breathing

To try alternate nostril breathing  sit down in a comfortable place, lengthening your spine and opening your chest.

Rest your left hand in your lap and raise your right hand. Then, rest the pointer and middle fingers of your right hand on your forehead, in between the eyebrows. Close your eyes, inhaling and exhaling through your nose.

  1. Use your right thumb to close the right-hand nostril and inhale slowly through the left.
  2. Pinch your nose closed between your right thumb and ring finger, holding the breath in for a moment.
  3. Use your right ring finger to close your left nostril and exhale through the right, waiting for a moment before you inhale again.
  4. Inhale slowly through the right nostril.
  5. Pinch your nose closed again, pausing for a moment.
  6. Now, open the left side and exhale, waiting a moment before you inhale again.
  7. Repeat this cycle of inhaling and exhaling through either nostril up to 10 times. Each cycle should take up to 40 seconds.

 

6. 4-7-8 Breathing technique

The 4-7-8 breathing technique, also known as “relaxing breath,” involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.

This breathing pattern aims to reduce anxiety and helps people get to sleep. Some proponents claim that the method helps people get to sleep in 1 minute. If you are pregnant or have a high blood pressure, please skip this exercise.

Before starting the breathing pattern, adopt a comfortable sitting position and place the tip of the tongue on the tissue right behind the top front teeth.

To use the 4-7-8 technique, focus on the following breathing pattern:

  • empty the lungs of air
  • breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds
  • hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds
  • exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds
  • repeat the cycle up to 4 times
To help you with this technique we created a free download. Click here to access it.

This post is also available in: Engels