Best Breathing Exercises For Anxiety and Stress

Breathing Practices:- Exhale Stress

Relax! Please take a deep breath is a phrase that we have heard a zillion times. Proper Breathing is the key to mindfulness and practising spirituality. It is essentially why you feel calmer and in control while you do yoga than the 10km jog. Deep Breathing Exercises make you feel relaxed and calm. Next time when you do deep breathing, notice how your body feels. With that thought, let’s get started.

What changes are you feeling in your body and your mind? You would notice that you feel calm and think clearly, just like the feeling of walking on wet grass in the morning. Breathing exercises can help you relax because they make your body feel free and light.

Deep breathing is one of the most inexpensive ways to reduce stress. You do not need any types of equipment while doing your deep breathing exercises. It is just your body, soul, heart, and mind.

In the field of medicine as well, breathing techniques or practices have proven to be very beneficial. Breathing exercises work wonders for stress; they decrease your blood pressure, normalize your heart, making you feel relaxed.

Breathing exercises don’t consume a great extent of time. It is about taking that time for yourself. You can start with just 5 minutes and then gradually increase the time as per your schedule.

Various Breathing Practices

The base of meditation is deep breathing- a practice that dates to millions of years ago. Proper breathing or control over breathing helps you reduce anxiety and stress and improve your heart health.

However, having control over your breathing is not easy. At least easier said than be done. It takes some time to get your mind and body tuned together to control your breathing and emotional state.

Each tradition has different breathing and meditation practices, and they all have essentially various significance. Below are a few meditative and relaxing breathing techniques for stress, managing anxiety, and leading a peaceful life.

Breathing Meditation Practices

Various breathing techniques are practised across the world. There are breathing exercises for panic attacks, mindfulness breathing exercises, deep breathing exercises for anxiety, breathing exercises for anxiety and depression.

Below are the breathing techniques that will help you in many phases of life, including the ones mentioned above.

Meditative Breathing Exercise:- Kundalini Breathing

In Kundalini Meditation, breathing is focussed on moving energy inside your body with breathing techniques.

This form of deep breathing exercise is also called diaphragmatic breathing.

Diaphragm breathing teaches you to use your breath correctly and strengthen it.

How Is it done: 

  1. For Kundalini Meditation, you can sit down or even lie on your back. 
  2. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. 
  3. Breath through your nose, and then feel your stomach. 
  4. Try to keep your hand as still as possible on your chest. 
  5. And then take deep breaths that fill your lungs. 
  6. You can practice Kundalini Meditation every day.

Meditative Breathing Exercise:- Nadi Shodhana

Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama originated from Hinduism. This breathing practice’s main focus is on controlling your breathing; it focuses on finding a balance within yourself internally.

Nadi Shodhana has medically proven to reduce blood pressure and increased concentration.

How Is it done:

To help close one nostril at a time, use your right hand to fold down your pointer and middle finger.
Then turn your hand so your palm and turned down fingers are facing your chest. You will use your thumb to close your right nostril and your ring finger to close the left.
Sit comfortably either in Padmasana or Vajrasana, place your left hand on your knee and close one nostril at a time with your right hand.
Inhale through your left nostril, close it with your ring finger and then exhale through your right nostril.
Use your thumb and ring finger while alternating the breathing.

Meditative Breathing Exercise:-Kumbhaka Pranayamas

Kumbhaka Pranayama is the breathing exercise of Hatha Yoga. This mediation form is practised in Antara and Bahya, which means interior and exterior, respectively.

How Is it done: 

  1. The fundamental of Kumbhaka Pranayama is to inhale completely until you fill your lungs.
  2. Hold your breath for the same amount of time and exhale should be double the time. 
  3. The ratio to be maintained should be 1-1-2, which you can increase up to 1-4-2. 1-4-2 should be the maximum.

These were the basic breathing exercises to manage anxiety or even reduce stress. You can practice this at home every morning; all you need is a mat and willpower!

Let us now delve into various breathing techniques for mindfulness, stress, and panic attacks. These breathing techniques are also the base of many meditation forms.

Skull Shining Breath

Skull Shining breathing technique, also known as Kapalabhati. Kapalabhati is one of the best techniques to ward off negative energies and thoughts. It can be done early in the morning to keep the energies aligned throughout the day.

How To Do It :

  1. Slowly inhale, inhale until you fill your lungs up
  2. Then exhale from your diaphragm out. Make sure you exhale slowly through your nose. 
  3. One breath at a time until you exhale completely.

The 4-7-8 Count

The technique of 4-7-8 is quite similar to Kumbhaka Pranayamas. This is one of the quick breathing techniques that can calm the nervous system. This technique is also referred to as the relaxing breathing technique and is amazing for insomnia and anxiety.

How To Do It :

  1. Hold your tongue at the top back of your teeth. 
  2. Let out a deep exhale and then close your mouth.
  3. Inhale at the count of four through your nose, hold it for seven, and then exhale deeply and completely at the count of eight

 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Another primitive and common technique is alternate breathing. As the name suggests, it is alternating between your nostril breathing.

This technique helps you re-energize yourself immediately.

How To Do It :

  1. Hold the right nostril with the right thumb
  2. Inhale a deep breath through your left nostril
  3. When you remove the thumb from the right nostril, hold your left nostril with your ring finger. 
  4. Exhale Slowly

This is considered as a simple breathing exercise that can be started at the beginners level itself.

Abdominal Breathing

Abdominal breathing is often recommended to beginners as it’s one of the most accessible forms of breathing. This is also a fundamental part of meditation.

Abdominal breathing is encountered as a potent breathing technique to reduce stress.

How To Do It :

  1. Place your hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. 
  2. Inhale deeply through your nose until you fill your lungs.
  3. Feel your stomach with your hand as you inflate with air
  4. Slowly and steadily release your breath.

The Stimulating Breath/ Bellow Breath

Bellow Breath is also great for improving your focus, increasing your alertness and energy. The Stimulating Breath is not an easy breathing technique like Alternate Nostril Breathing, Abdominal Breathing.

It may take some time for you to achieve perfection with this one; you may not get it right in the first couple of days. However, you will get addicted to this technique because of the after results.

How To Do It:

  1. Inhale quickly and exhale as fast as possible through your nose. Try to keep both the durations equal.
  2. Continue for five seconds.
  3. Gradually increase your time until you can do it for 1 min.

Equal Breathing

A similar breathing technique calms mind, body, and soul equally.

It is perfect to increase focus, reduce stress and calm your nerves. It can be done anytime, anywhere.

How To Do It:

  1. Inhale through your nose slowly at the count of four
  2. Exhale through your nose itself at the count of four

Pursed Lip Breathing

This technique focuses on the slowing of the breath pace with deliberate effort applied to each breath.

Pursed lip breathing can be practised at any time, anywhere. While you climb, walk, or even work.

How To Do It:

  1. Stretch your shoulders and neck
  2. Inhale slowly through your nose at the count of 2, keeping the mouth closed.
  3. Pucker your lips to imitate whistle movement
  4. Exhale through the puckered lips at the count of 4 

Lion’s Breath

Lion’s breath in yoga is known as Simhasana. Lion’s breath helps to relieve tension in your chest and face.

How To Do It:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position. You can either sit in Padmasana or Vajrasana.
  2. Press your palm against the knees with your finger spread wide
  3. Open your mouth wide, and stick out your tongue and get the tip towards your chin.
  4. Exhale out through your mouth, making an “ah” sound.
  5. Turn your gaze and look at the tip of your nose.
  6. Do this 2- 3 times.

Resonant or Coherent Breathing

Resonant breathing is when you inhale and exhale at a count of 5. It would be best if you breathed at the count of 5 per minute.

Breathing at this rate reduces stress and symptoms of depression.

How To Do It:

  1. Inhale and exhale at the count of 5.
  2. Continue this pattern for a few mins.

Sitali Breath

This breathing technique helps lower the body temperature and relaxes the tension in your body.

While doing this asana, make sure you extend your breath but don’t force it.

In this asana, you have to inhale through your mouth, hence choosing a place free of air pollution.

How To Do It:

  1. Choose a comfortable seated position.
  2. Stick and curl your tongue to get the edges together.
  3. If you are unable to do it with your tongue, try to purse your lip
  4. Inhale and Exhale through your mouth and nose, respectively.
  5. Continue this for up to 5 minutes.

Humming bee breath (Bhramari)

Bhramari breathing exercise helps to calm soothe around your forehead. Make sure you practice this in a place where you are alone, as you would need to make a humming bee breath to relieve frustration and anger.

How To Do It:

Choose a comfortable position to sit.
Relax your face with closed eyes.
Place the first fingers on the tragus cartilage that partially covers your ear canal.
While you inhale and exhale, press your fingers into the cartilage.
Make a loud humming sound with your mouth closed
Continue as long as you’re comfortable.

Conclusion

Take time and experiment with all the breathing exercises and techniques to relieve your stress and lessen the daily anxiety.

Dedicate a part of your day to practice meditation. If you have a busy morning, try to do it in the evenings, or you could do some of these simple breathing techniques at your workstation to take a break from the sequential meetings.

The purpose of meditation is to make our minds calm or peaceful. If our mind is peaceful, we will be free from worries and mental discomforts to experience true happiness.

If our mind is not peaceful, we will find it difficult to experience happiness, even if we live in the best conditions.