Stress has become an indispensable part of today’s life. It often becomes devastating and interferes with the state of equilibrium of our nervous system, thereby affecting our health and well-being. In such situations, breathing exercises can help us immensely in restoring the balance of our nervous system and achieving the optimum relaxation.
Top 10 Breathing Techniques For Relaxation:
Check out the top 10 breathing technique for relaxation that are discussed below:
1. Deep Or Abdominal Breathing:
It is known to be the most effective breathing technique for taking control over our nervous system and keeping the stress level low. Practicing it only 10 minutes per day can be helpful in reducing blood pressure and heart rate almost instantaneously.
- Sit straight on the floor and place your hands on your chest and abdomen one by one.
- Start inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. You can feel how the hand kept on your abdomen rises along with the contraction of the abdominal muscles, while the other hand doesn’t move that much.
- Try to breathe in as much air as possible so that your body is provided with lots of fresh oxygen and keep counting slowly as you breathe out.
2. Stimulating Breath Or Bellows Breath:
This is the modified version of a certain yogic breathing exercise. It gives our vital energy a significant boost and heightens our awareness to a great extent.
- Sit comfortably on the floor and start breathing through your nose quickly. Your mouth must be closed, but make sure that it is relaxed enough.
- Try to complete a cycle of 3 breath-ins and breath-outs every second. Resume normal breathing after finishing each cycle. Continue the process up to 15 seconds at the initial stage. Then, increase by 5 to 10 seconds as you go ahead.
- The duration of your inhalation and exhalation should be short, yet equal. It will move your diaphragm extremely fast just like a ‘bellows’
3. Equal Breathing Or Sama Vritti:
This is a sort of balanced breathing technique that should be practiced every night before going to bed. It makes our mind free of racing thoughts, thereby calming it and improving sleep.
- Find a place where you can sit comfortably by keeping your spine straight.
- Now, start breathing in and breathing out through your nose, while counting 1 to 4 each time. Once you master the basic pranayama, go for a bit higher counts i.e., 6 or 8 for each breath.
- This equal or balanced counting will resist your natural breathing to a certain extent, thereby soothing the nervous system, enhancing the focus and decreasing stress.
4. Relaxing Breath Or 4-7-8 Exercise:
It is one of the simplest breathing techniques that can be practiced anytime anywhere for tranquilizing the nervous system and staying relaxed. It has subtle initial effects, which become prominent as you master it.
- Start with sitting straight and planting the tip of your tongue on the upper palate present right behind the teeth. It must be there for rest of the time.
- Purse your lips a little and breathe out completely through your mouth. As the air passes around the tongue, it may sound ’whooshhh’.
- Now, breathe in through your nose, while keeping the mouth closed and counting 1 to 4 silently.
- Hold on the air and count 1 to 7 slowly and steadily.
- Finally, breathe out through your mouth, while counting 1 to 8 and creating a ‘whooshhh’ sound once again.
- Repeat the entire cycle for a total of 4 times.
5. Progressive Relaxation:
When it comes to feeling relaxed right from the head to the toe, this breathing exercise works the best. However, make sure that you do not get dizzy, while practicing it on the go.
- Sit on the floor by keeping your spine erect and eyes closed. Start breathing slowly and deeply through your nose.
- Now, focus on tensing as well as relaxing various muscle groups of your body one by one. You may begin from your feet and toes and go up gradually.
- Inhale and hold the breath for a count of 5 while tensing the muscles and do just the reverse while relaxing them.
6. Breath Counting:
It is basically a part of Zen practice in which the rhythm and intensity of breaths vary from time to time. However, the entire technique is pretty simple and easy.
- Sit upright on the floor by tilting your head a little forward and keeping your eyes closed.
- Breathe in deeply for a few times and then, breathe out naturally. It must be a slow and silent procedure.
- While exhaling the air out of your nose, count ‘one’ silently. Repeat the entire step and count ‘two’, while breathing out this time. This way, keep increasing the counting up to ‘five’ and finish a single cycle of exercise.
7. Alternate Nostril Breathing Or Nadi Shodhana:
According to experts, this breathing method can ‘clear the channels’ and increase our attentiveness. It is also known to connect both sides of our brain, thereby balancing its activities efficiently.
- Sit on the floor in a meditative pose (sukhasana or padmasana or anything similar) that is comfortable for you.
- Place the thumb of your right hand on your right nostril and press firmly. Meanwhile, breathe in through your left nostril.
- Then, place the ring finger of your right hand on your left nostril and press firmly. Remove your right thumb from your right nostril and release the air slowly through it.
8. Skull Shining Breath Or Kapalabhati:
This is focused on our abdomen as we need to breathe out forcefully from our lower belly during the practice. It tranquilizes our entire body, which eventually energizes us more in a more efficient manner.
- Just like the previous technique, sit in the meditative pose that you are most comfortable with. Keep your eyes closed.
- Start breathing in slowly. Make sure that the step of inhalation is long enough.
- As soon as you are done with it, start breathing out fast and forcefully. The exhalation must be generated from the lower part of your abdomen.
- You can repeat the whole thing every 1 to 2 seconds and carry out up to 10 times, as you master the technique.
9. The Complete Breath:
Being the ‘complete’ breath technique, it revolves around the usage of the whole of our lungs. As a result, our body is provided with adequate oxygen, which makes its relaxation responses prompter.
- It can be divided into 3 stages and you need to breathe into the diaphragm, mid-chest and upper-chest areas respectively in them.
- In the first stage, the ribs spread out to the sides a little and the upper section of the stomach rises.
- In the second stage, the ribs inflate to the sides once again. As a result, the area under the armpits rises.
- In the third stage, the breast bone goes up a little.
- The air should be exhaled in the reverse directions in each of these 3 stages.
10. Guided Visualization:
Well, as the name suggests, this technique can be practiced either with the guided of a therapist or by following some kind of recorded instructions. Usually, it needs you to focus on a certain image, which is pleasant by nature and has positive impressions. Keep breathing slowly and deeply at the same time. It will eradicate all sorts of negative thoughts and help you achieve mindfulness upon proper execution.
So, which one of these would you like to practice for bringing your stress level down? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Nilankeeta Roy Chowdhury
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