You may have noticed that when you are stressed your breath becomes shallow and shorter. When we are stressed, our body activates the fight or flight response. It is the response of the body to confront any danger. We cannot avoid stress all the time, but we can develop a healthier way of responding to it. Focusing on the breath is one of the best relaxation techniques that makes you calm and relaxed. Take a deep breath and you will notice a great difference in how you are feeling. When you are stressed, your breath is a powerful tool to ease your stress and make you relax. Here, we’ll walk you through some effective deep breathing exercises for stress relief.
Breathing exercises for stress management
Here are some simple deep breathing exercises for stress management.
1. Diaphragmatic Breathing
- You can perform this while sitting on a chair or lying on the bed. Place your left hand on your upper chest and the right on your stomach so that you can feel your belly rising.
- Take a deep breath through your nose until your belly is filled with air.
- Hold it for a moment and then exhale through your mouth.
- Try to exhale twice long as you inhale.
Diaphragmatic breathing is also called belly breathing. This type of breathing can be very useful to you if you are going to attend a stressful event or when your heart started pounding just thinking about it.
2. Alternate Nostril breathing
- Sit in a cross-legged position keeping your back straight and palms resting on your thighs.
- Bring your right thumb near your nose and close your right nostril and take a deep breath through your left nostril.
- Hold your breath and then close your left nostril from your ring finger and exhale through your right nostril. Now breathe through your right nostril and pause for a moment.
- With the help of the right thumb close your right nostril and breathe out through your left nostril.
It is also called nadi shodhana pranayama. This deep breathing exercise helps a person to slow down, relieve stress and ease through anxiety.
3. Bhramari Pranayama
- To practice Bhramari pranayama, sit down in a cross-legged position with your back straight.
- Close your eyes and gently close your ears from your thumbs. Place your forefinger over your eyebrows and gently cover your eyes with the rest of the fingers.
- Take a deep breath through your nose. Now keep your mouth close, exhale through your nose making a loud hum ‘om’ sound. You can repeat this process for at least 5 to 7 breaths.
When it comes to deep breathing exercises for anxiety, Bhramari pranayama is one of the best relaxation techniques. It instantly calms you and is highly beneficial in anxiety or anger management.
4. Lion’s Breath
- To practice lion breath, sit on your heels. Now place your hands on your knees and spread your fingers like a claw.
- Take a deep breath through your nose and as you are going to exhale, open your mouth and stick your tongue out as much as you can.
- Exhale through your mouth, making a loud ‘Haa’ sound. Try to bring your gaze towards the center of your eyebrows or at the tip of your nose as you exhale.
- Repeat this for 3 to 4 breaths.
When it comes to breathing exercises for stress relief, lion’s breath, or Simhasana, is a significant breathing exercise as it instantly relieves stress and tension from your face and chest muscles.
5. Pursed Lip Breathing
- Sit in a comfortable position keeping your neck and shoulder relaxed.
- Inhale slowly through your nose until the count of two.
- Now gently purse your lips like the way you whistle, and exhale slowly through your pursed lips till the count of four.
This simple deep breathing exercise technique makes you’re your breathing rate slower by making a conscious effort in each breath. You can practice this breathing any time, whether you are climbing stairs or lifting anything.
6. Equal breathing
- To practice equal breathing, you can sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
- Close your eyes and inhale slowly through your nose until the count of four.
- Now exhale slowly through your nose till the count of four.
Equal breathing is also known as Sama Virtti. If you are feeling trouble falling asleep then practicing this can take your mind off all the thoughts which are distracting you.
7. Skull-Shinning breath
- Sit straight in sukhasana with your hands resting on your knees.
- Take a deep inhale through your nose. Exhale forcefully through your nose by contracting your belly.
- Let the air fill in your belly naturally and just focus on the powerful exhalation.
- Practice this for at least 12 to 15 breaths and then relax.
Skull shinning or kapalbhati breath wakes up your brain as it increases oxygenation in the body. So wake up and look at the bright side of life with Kapal Bhati pranayama.
8. Resonant and coherent breathing
- In this breathing technique, you need to inhale through your nose to the count of five.
- Exhale slowly through your nose till the count of five.
- Repeat this process for a few minutes.
In resonant breathing, you need to take a slow and long breath at the rate of five breaths per minute. It helps in reducing stress and calms you when you are feeling anxious.
9. Deep Breathing
- To perform deep breathing, you can sit comfortably, keeping your shoulder and neck relaxed.
- Take a deep inhale from your nose making sure that your lungs are completely filled with air.
- Now exhale slowly through your nose making sure that your lungs are completely empty.
Deep breathing is the most effective method to relieve stress. Taking a deep breath during a stressful situation lowers your heartbeat and makes you calmer.
10. Mindful breathing
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position in a quiet place, away from distractions.
- Now focus on your breathing and feel the sensations in your body as you inhale and exhale.
- Focus only on your body’s sensations and let the thoughts pass without any judgment.
People can consider mindful breathing for sleep, anxiety, or any stress issues. This technique allows complete relaxation as the person has to fully concentrate on his/her breath.
Your breath is a powerful tool against day-to-day stress. You will learn to manage stress with the help of these deep breathing exercises technique. If you feel that you are struggling then practice one or two at a time. With gradual practice, you will start feeling better and notice that you have become more calm and resilient towards stress.