Breathe in. Breathe out. When you take a deep breath and let it out, you may notice a difference in your body and how you feel. Breathing is powerful, and learning different breathing techniques can provide many physical and mental health benefits. It is also the best way to relieve stress and tension.
Unmanaged stress can suppress the immune system and put you at risk of the common cold and other health disorders. It can also contribute to the onset of mental health problems such as anxiety or depression.
Here are a few breathing techniques that can help you do away with stress and make a big difference in your life.
1. Deep Abdominal Breathing
This is the most basic breathing technique and is extremely easy to do. Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position. Put one hand on the abdomen area that is just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest. Next, take a deep breath in through your nose whilst allowing your abdomen to push your hand up.
Breathe out through pursed lips and use the hand on your abdomen to push all the air out. Repeat this process approximately 3-10 times. This breathing technique is responsible for enabling full oxygen exchange. This can help slow your heartbeat and lower or stabilise blood pressure.
Once you have mastered the basics, you may practice a more advanced form of the technique, ‘4-7-8’. The only difference is that the more advanced technique involves taking a deep breath and stopping after a 4-count. Hold the breath for the next 7 seconds before breathing out completely to an 8-count.
2. Pranayama Breathing
A consistent practice of pranayama breathing techniques is associated with improving cardiovascular and respiratory functions and reducing stress on several systems in the body. Bhramari pranayama breathing, for example, requires you to sit comfortably in any posture and to inhale and exhale through the nostrils slowly and deeply.
As you exhale, hum slowly through your nasal airway whilst ensuring that your lips are closed and your ears are closed with your fingers. In doing so, you will be able to change your normal breathing rhythm and refresh your mind. It is also possible for bhramari pranayama breathing to induce a meditative state.
To help relieve fatigue and stress and promote healthy digestion, you can also consume an enzyme essence that combines more than 90 fermented vegetables and fruits with Cordyceps and 12 active strains of good bacteria. Dilute 30ml of this essence with 5-8 portions of cold or warm water before consuming.
3. Wim Hof Method Breathing
This unconventional breathing technique requires you to inhale deeply through the nose or mouth and exhale unforced through the mouth as you sit or lie down in a meditative position. Repeat these 30 to 40 times in short, powerful bursts. It is vital to ensure that you fully inhale through the abdomen and chest before releasing the breath.
One of the main benefits of practising this breathing technique is its ability to voluntarily influence the sympathetic nervous system and immune system. Changes in both systems can increase the production of IL-10 cytokines — proteins that are responsible for mediating and regulating immunity — and a quicker normalisation of fever and cortisol levels. A consistent practise of this breathing technique and exposure to cold environments helps to heighten focus, increase energy levels and promote better sleep.
Alternatively, you may also consume a bottle of vinegar combined with spine dates and walnut membranes once daily. This concoction may induce calm and relaxation and soothe your body for more restful sleep.
4. Mindful Breathing
The simplest way to master mindful breathing is to focus on how you breathe, then inhale and exhale. But before you do, ensure that you find a comfortable and relaxed position. At the same time, relax your body and feel the natural flow of your breath.
If you struggle to calm your mind and body in a stressful situation, you may opt to take an exaggerated breath. This involves a deep inhalation through your nostrils for 3 seconds, holding your breath for 2 seconds and exhaling through your mouth for 4 seconds.
The benefits of mindful breathing are centred on psychological benefits, such as an increased ability to shift your focus from one object to another, lower your blood pressure, promote positive thinking, and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
5. Morning Breathing
You can practise this breathing technique when you wake up as it helps relieve muscle stiffness and clear blocked nasal airways. Interestingly, you can also perform deep breathing exercises throughout the day to alleviate muscle tension in your back.
To perform this technique, bend forward from the waist with your knees slightly bent whilst letting your arms dangle. As you inhale slowly and deeply, go back into a standing position gradually, ensuring that you lift your head last. To complete one repetition, exhale slowly from the waist as you return to the original position.
Morning breathing helps you relax by lowering the negative effects of cortisol or stress hormones in your body.
Alternatively, you can take a herbal supplement that contains vitamin C and a few different flavonoids 3 times daily can help to soothe nasal passages and support healthy inflammation.
These breathing techniques do not require the use of any equipment so, you can do it anytime you want to relax. However, starting your day with just 5 minutes of breathing exercise is a great way to begin your day on a positive note.
- Harvard Health Publishing. 2020. Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response. [Accessed 16 June 2021]
- University of Michigan Health. Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation. [Accessed 16 June 2021]
- US National Library of Medicine. 2017. Effects of Bhramari Pranayama on health – A systematic review. [Accessed 16 June 2021]
- WIF HOM METHOD. WIM HOF METHOD BREATHING. [Accessed 16 June 2021]
- US National Library of Medicine. 2014. Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans. [Accessed 16 June 2021]
- Mindful.org. 2016. A 5-Minute Breathing Meditation To Cultivate Mindfulness. [Accessed 16 June 2021]
- US National Library of Medicine. 2014. The Effectiveness of Daily Mindful Breathing Practices on Test Anxiety of Students. [Accessed 16 June 2021]