In our fast-paced lives, stress has become an all-too-common companion. However, by incorporating simple breathing exercises into our daily routines, we can effectively manage stress and find a sense of empowerment within ourselves. Let’s explore some breathing exercises that are easy to practice and can bring peace and tranquility to our lives.
Deep Belly Breathing
Deep belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is a powerful technique for reducing stress and promoting relaxation. First, we sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Next, we place one hand on our abdomen, just below our ribs, and the other on our chest. Then, we take a slow, deep breath in through our nose, allowing our belly to rise as we fill our lungs with air. Finally, exhaling slowly through our mouth, we feel our belly fall. We experience compounding benefits as we repeat this deep belly breathing for a few minutes, focusing on the gentle rise and fall of our abdomen.
Box breathing is a simple yet effective technique that helps regulate our breath and calm our mind. We do this exercise by breathing in four equal strokes. Some may also find it helpful to image that we are tracing the sides of a box with our breath.
It starts by inhaling slowly through our nose to a count of four. Then, we hold our breath in for a count of four. We follow with an exhale, slowly through our mouth, for an equal count of four. Finally, we hold our breath out for another count of four. Repeating this sequence for a few rounds allows us to relax fully as we find a steady rhythm with each breath.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a popular exercise that promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety. We begin by sitting comfortably with our back straight. Closing our eyes, we then take a deep breath in through our nose to a count of four. At the top of the inhale, we hold our breath for a count of seven. Finally, we exhale slowly through our mouth, making a gentle whooshing sound, to a count of eight. This pattern constitutes one breath cycle. Repeating this cycle three more times, focusing on the calming sensation of the extended exhale, is a quick but powerful practice that will bring us a sense of well-being whenever we might need it most.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Alternate nostril breathing is a technique that balances the flow of energy in the body and promotes a sense of calm and clarity. We close our right nostril with our right thumb and inhale slowly through our left nostril. We then close our left nostril with our ring finger, releasing our right nostril, and exhale through the right nostril. Then, we inhale through the right nostril before we close it with our thumb and exhale through the left nostril. The practice is continued by alternating nostrils with each breath complete breath cycle, allowing ourselves to find a peaceful rhythm.
Variations on this breath technique are common, especially in breath-work heavy disciplines such as Kundalini yoga. Breathing only through the left nostril promotes coolness, calmness and relaxation, whereas breathing exclusively through the right nostril generates heat, energy and motivation. We can experiment with these variations to enhance our states of being regardless of whatever life might be asking of us throughout our days.
Counted breathing is a straightforward technique that helps shift our focus away from stress and into the present moment. We accomplish this by inhaling slowly through our nose to a count of four. Holding our breath in for a count of four, we then exhale slowly through our mouth to a count of six. We can repeat this pattern for several rounds, allowing our breath to guide us into a state of relaxation.
Incorporating breathing exercises into our daily routine is a simple yet powerful way to manage stress and empower ourselves. Whether we choose deep belly breathing, box breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, alternate nostril breathing or counted breathing, each technique offers its unique benefits in reducing stress and promoting relaxation. We can all find the breathing exercises that resonate with us, and make them a regular part of our self-care practice. Let’s embrace the power of our breath and discover the transformative effect it can have on our well-being – bringing us peace, tranquility and resilience in the face of everyday stressors.