Posted on June 11 2019
A Natural Remedy
Breathing is an essential means of regulation in the human body. Because of this, the act of controlled breathing can be a perfect way to lower stress. Put simply, when you breathe deeply, your vagus nerve sends a message of calm to your brain. The brain then relays this message to your body. This internal "conversation" can completely change your state of being.
Breathing exercises can be one of the best and easiest ways to relax, focus, and relieve stress. Breathing exercises have been an inherent part of yoga and meditation practices for centuries. More recently, they have begun to be used all over the field of healthcare, particularly within a variety of therapies for stress-based issues.
The best part is, breathing exercises are super easy to learn. They just take a bit of practice and desire. They also don’t require any equipment or a special setting, so you can start doing them right now!
4 simple breathing exercises that you should be doing
- Equal Breathing
This breathing technique is the most basic one here. It relies on the simple notion that balance can do you a world of good.
To start, simply inhale through your nose for a count of four seconds, then exhale out the same way for another count of four. Continue this pattern for a few minutes.
This basic exercise should help you connect with your breath and find noticeable calming benefits. Try it at your desk at work, or before bed at night.
- Belly Breathing
Also known as diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing is a simple and fun breathing exercise. Most importantly, it can be a great technique for relaxation.
To complete this breath, simply do the following:
- Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
- Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
- Breath deeply in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out (do not move your chest).
- Breathe out through the mouth with lips pursed.
- The hand on your belly will go in, use it to help push all the air out.
- Repeat a few times.
This one is also popular with kids, just watch Common and Colbie Caillat team up with the Sesame street gang to help teach kids belly breathing.
- 4-7-8 Breath
The 4-7-8 breath is a slightly more advanced method of breathing. This breathing technique is commonly used in biofeedback therapy, a popular therapy form focusing on controlling involuntary bodily processes that has been found successful in treating symptoms of chronic pain and illness.
To complete the 4-7-8 breath, inhale through your nose to a count of four, hold the breath for a count of seven, and exhale fully through your mouth to a count of eight.
It will take consistent practice to get this breathing technique down, but it can be built into a great tool for relaxation and stress relief. If you need more info on this technique, read here.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing
Known to yogis as Nadi Shodhana, this time-tested breathing technique is both engaging and calming. It is the perfect breathing exercise for a mid-day boost, or for right before a workout!
Here’s how to do it:
- Start in a comfortable pose.
- Hold the right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril.
- At the peak of inhalation, close off the left nostril with the ring finger, then exhale through the right nostril.
- Continue the pattern for a few repetitions, inhaling through the right nostril, closing it off with the right thumb, and exhaling through the left nostril.
This time tested breathing technique is likely to become a favorite!
Start practicing these 4 simple breathing techniques today and you'll be seeing results immediately. Conscious breathing can be an extremely powerful tool for relaxation and stress relief: use it to your advantage!
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