Posted at 11:26 • 9 Feb • Logan McNeal • News
5 Breathwork Exercises To Relieve Stress, Anxiety, & Depression
In The Modern World
Breathwork has been used for thousands of years by many different cultures to calm the mind, ground the body, and relieve stress. In the modern age where everyone is in a hurry and constantly anxious we can see that stress is one of the leading causes of illness and chronic disease. Breathwork can relieve stress and elevate mood as well as lowering cortisol levels in the blood. In this article, we will explore 5 breathwork exercises that you can do RIGHT NOW!
Belly breathing is a helpful way to use your diaphragm correctly. It is recommended to practice belly breathing when you are feeling rested and calm. Practice diaphragmatic breathing for 5-10 minutes 3-4 times per day to achieve acquired results. When you start out you may feel tired, give it time and eventually, the process should become effortless and feel more natural.
- Start by laying your head on a pillow with your knees partially bent.
- Feel free to use a yoga block or pillow under your knees for extra support. Place one hand under your rib cage and the other on your upper chest, feel the movement of your diaphragm as you slowly inhale through your nose, notice the sensation of your stomach pushing into your hand.
- Try to keep the hand on your upper chest as still as you can.
- Breathe out while pursing your lips, tighten your stomach muscles while keeping your upper hand still.
If you are looking to make this exercise more difficult, place a heavy object such as a book on your abdomen to add a challenge and strengthen your ability to belly breath. When you feel comfortable with the exercise laying down try it while sitting in a chair. Once you have mastered diaphragmatic breathing you can incorporate it into your daily routines effortlessly and efficiently.
2. Lion’s breath
This breathing technique is used in many different yoga practices. It is said to energize and relieve tension within the chest and face as well as engage the 5th chakra (Throat). It’s also known in yoga as Lion’s Pose or simhasana in Sanskrit.
- Find a position that feels most comfortable for you. Some examples could be crossing your legs or sitting back on your heels.
- With your fingers spread, push your palms against your knees.
- Open your eyes wide and breath in deeply through your nose. In the same moment, open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue, allowing the tip to fall down towards your chin.
- Contract the muscles at the front of your throat while you exhale out through your mouth producing a long “haaa” sound.
- Try focusing on the space between your eyebrows or the tip of your nose for better concentration.
- Practice this 2-3 times for the desired effect.
3. Humming bee breath (bhramari)
The stimulating feeling you get from this breath is said to be felt around the forehead. People have found humming bee breath to relieve Irritation, Anger, as well as Anxiety. Be mindful to practice this exercise in a space where humming is allowed and welcomed.
- Find a seated position that is comfortable for you.
- Close your eyes and relax the muscles in your face.
- Put your first fingers on the tragus cartilage that partially covers your ear canal.
- Take a breath in, as you exhale gently press your fingers into the cartilage.
- Make a loud humming sound while keeping your mouth closed.
- Continue this exercise until the desired effect is achieved.
4. Sitali breath
This breathing practice is said to help relax the mind and lower body temperature. Be mindful to gently extend the breath but don't force it. Since you have to breathe in through your mouth for this breathing exercise it's wise to do it in a space with few allergens or air pollutants that could cause sneezing or other complications while doing this exercise.
- Find a seated position that is comfortable for you.
- Stick out your tongue and curl it to bring the outer edges together.
- If you are having trouble, you can purse your lips.
- Breath in through your mouth.
- Breath out through your nose.
- Continue breathing like this for up to 5 minutes for the desired effect.
5. Equal breathing
Equal breathing is known as sama vritti in Sanskrit. This breathing exercise helps your inhales and exhales to be the same length. By making your breathing smooth and steady it can bring about balance and tranquility. You should find a breath length that is not too easy and not too hard. You also don’t want it to be too fast so that you’re able to maintain it throughout the practice. Normally, this is between 3 and 5 counts.
- Find a seating position that is comfortable for you.
- Inhale and exhale through your nose.
- Count during each inhale and exhale. Be sure they are even in duration.
- You may find it helpful to add a pause after each inhale and exhale once you feel comfortable. (Normal breathing involves a natural pause.)
- Continue practicing this exercise for at least 5 minutes for the desired effect.
As you can see breathwork can help with many different ailments that plague modern-day society. If we could all give 5 minutes of our day to breathwork imagine how much better we all could feel. Take time for yourself and slow down when you need to. These tools are here to help us stay grounded and centered in our fast-paced chaotic world. I hope this helps anyone looking for a solution for anxiety, depression, or overall stress. Stay happy and healthy friends.