Breathing Techniques to Relieve Stress: Breathing Exercises For Relaxation
In mythology, there is a proper saying that – “the length of a person’s life is predetermined by the number of breaths.”
Exercise is something everyone should do. Several magazines and social media tell us to sweat more, be slimmer, work harder, and get stronger. What about mental strength? Have you ever thought of attaining an ideal self?
Work-related stress or relationship related tension is we can’t escape. It has become part of our lives and has been changing the lifestyle with its adverse effects. It causes a complex series of changes to our bodies. As a part of the stress response, hormone levels rise to prepare the body for a stressful experience. As a side effect, they interfere with wound healing, prevent the skin from repairing itself and could potentially be associated with premature aging.
Now, when it comes to coping with stress overload, our breath is one of the best remedies!
Below are the 3 easy breathing techniques or Pranayama to help you relax and bring some peace and calm to your bad days.
Alternate Nostril Breathing- Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
Nadi Shodhana is a powerful breathing practice with wide-reaching benefits. “Nadi” means “flow” and “Shodhana” means “purification.” This practice can boost your thinking, release stress and harmonize the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
How to Do
Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Block your right nostril with your right thumb and the left nostril with your ring finger. Now slowly inhale through the left nostril while keeping close the right nostril. Pause; now breathe out through the right nostril. Inhale again through the right nostril and breathe slowly out through the left nostril.
Continue this practice for 2 to 5 minutes.
Warrior Breath- Ujjayi Pranayama
Ujjayi Breath is also known as “Victorious Breath,” “ocean breath,” and “Hissing breath.” During this practice, you gently constrict the back of your throat, which results in the breath sounding like ocean waves or a subtle hiss. This pranayama regulates emotions and increases resilience for coping with stress, anxiety, anger, and depression effectively.
How to Do
Sit in a comfortable position and relax your mouth and jawline. During the deep sessions of breathing, feel the air passing through your windpipe. When you exhale, softly utter the sound “ahh” from your mouth. Try to maintain a contraction at the back of your throat during inhalation. Once you are comfortable, use only the nose for breathing and keep your mouth closed while maintaining the contract.
Start this Pranayama for 5 minutes in the beginning and slowly increase the time period up to 15 minutes.
Square Breathing Yoga- Sama Vritti Pranayama
Sama- Vritti is a soothing, calming, and centring practice which helps to calm the mind. This breathing technique is often thought of as even more powerful as asana practices. It engages the parasympathetic nervous system which will help in transition into a more relaxed, restorative state.
How to Do
Sit in a comfortable crossed leg position with the spine upright, arms and shoulders relaxed. Start with Ujjayi breathing without any retention, the inhalation, and exhalation in equal duration. After 4 to 5 deep breaths, introduce retention only after inhalation and not exhalation. Gradually increase the duration of retention. Make all the three components-inhalation, retention, and exhalation. Now introduce retention after exhalation. Make the four components- inhalation, retention, exhalation, and retention- of equal duration.
Continue this practice for 8 to 10 breaths and end it with a relaxed, regular breathing pattern.
Try these breathing techniques out whenever you start to feel stress build up, and notice how much more relaxed and refreshed you feel.