Stress impacts our health in so many ways. And it can lead to stress eating and other poor habits.
Whether it’s stress from our jobs, our bosses, customers, family or strenuous events, it’s important for us to find ways to deal with it.
Breathing exercises can help to provide stress relief. When we’re stressed our chest and bellies tighten and this affects our breathing.
In a moment, we will discuss different breathing techniques that can help reduce stress. But before that, let’s look at some other ways breathing exercises impact our minds and bodies
Sleep. According to research published in the Frontiers in Psychiatry journal in January 2018, slow breathing techniques are effective in fighting sleeplessness when used with relaxation and sleep hygiene.
The researchers found that deep breathing exercises are even better than hypnotics and medication.
Anxiety. Deep breathing triggers a signal telling your brain to calm down. It alleviates symptoms like faster heart rates, high blood pressure, and faster breathing.
We breathe differently during our most relaxed moments when we are falling asleep or waking up. This is why deep breathing helps us to relax.
Stress relief. Breathing exercises are good for helping our bodies to cope with stress, especially when you add it to a morning exercise routine.
Breathing exercises for sleep
1. Three-Part Breathing
Three-part breathing exercise is one of the most popular for its sheer simplicity. You inhale slowly and deeply.
Exhale completely while paying attention to your body. Do this a couple of times and then exhale slowly, much slower than you inhaled.
2. 4-7-8 Breathing
Part your lips gently. Exhale deeply, which a whoosh sound. Inhale through your nose silently, pressing your lips and counting up to 4.
Hold your breath and count to 7. Exhale, counting to 8 and whooshing as you go. Start with four reps and work your way up to eight reps.
3. Bhramari Pranayamas and cover your eyes with the remaining fingers.
To do this exercise, breathe in and out deeply with your eyes closed. Place your hands over your ears to close them.
Move your fingers over your eyes, covering your eyebrows with each index finger. Apply a little pressure to your nose on both sides, focusing on your brows, too.
Slowly breathe out through your nose while your mouth is closed and hum ‘om’ as you do it. Do the whole thing 5 times.
Bjramari pranayama promotes sleep by reducing your heart rate.
Breathing exercise for calming and anxiety
4. Natural breathing
Natural breathing shouldn’t be an exercise, it should be the way we breathe all day every day. Slowly inhale normally through your nose and exhale easily. As you inhale, only your lower lungs should fill up.
You can tell whether you are doing it correctly by putting one hand over your stomach and the other over your chest. This can help loosen up stiffness in your body.
5. Calming breath
Breathe long and slowly through your nose Your lower lungs should fill up before your upper lungs. Count to three while holding your breath and slowly exhale while relaxing your face and upper body.
6. Calming counts
In a comfortable sitting position, breathe in long and deep and exhale slowly. Silently mouth the word relax. Keep your eyes closed as you breathe ten times, naturally.
Do a count down every time you exhale. Count down from ten when you first exhale and as you count down, focus on any tension in your body.
Breathing exercises for stress
7. Lion’s breath
Do this as you visualize yourself as a lion and breathe out with your mouth open wide.
Sit down in a comfortable position. Draw breathe into your nose. Breathe in until your belly is full of air and you can’t inhale anymore. Then open your mouth wide, making an ah sound as you breathe out.
Repeat ten times.
8. Deep breathing
Start by making yourself comfortable. Lie down, putting a pillow underneath your knees and head. Or sit in a chair making sure that your head, shoulders, and neck are well supported.
Breathe in and out through your nose, your belly should be filled with air.
Repeat the exercise with one hand on your stomach area and the other on your chest area. Your belly should swell more than your chest. Four deep breaths at a time are good for a start.
9. Breath focus
To conduct this exercise, imagine a picture that makes you feel relaxed.
Close your eyes and breathe in deeply, visualizing peace and calm in the environment and in your body. Breathe out and visualize your tension and stress leaving your body with your breath.
Vocalize it by saying “I breathe in peace,” as you breathe in. Say “I breathe out stress and tension,” as you breathe out. Keep this up for at least 10 minutes.