Breathing Techniques to Reduce Stress

With chronic stress being at an all-time high, learning techniques to reduce the amount of stress we carry will serve us well. After all, many physicians report that a good number of ailments manifest as a result of chronic stress, as stress can really tear down the mind and body.

A simple way to combat some stress is to learn various types of breathing techniques, as the breath is actually quite therapeutic to the mind and body when used correctly.

Experts assert that when we are stressed, our breathing becomes shallow, which hinders adequate amounts of oxygen in getting to the cells of the body. Additionally, stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for us walking around in the fight-or-flight response rather than in a state of peace.

By taking some time to learn and practice deep breathing techniques, we actually stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which helps the body to feel peaceful and rested. It can also help lower blood pressure and promote feelings of joy.

Even ten minutes a day practicing such breathing techniques can reduce the amount of stress we carry significantly because our breath has a direct effect on messages sent to the brain. Therefore, we can alter the message the brain is getting (fear or peace) by changing the way we breathe, and that’s fantastic!

Here are several deep breathing techniques that you can use to de-stress and experience more peace and bliss in your life:
1. The Stimulating Breath or Bellows Breath

Dr. Andrew Weil has come up with several breathing techniques to help people decrease stress and increase mindfulness. The Stimulating, or Bellows Breath, is a breathing technique common for yogis and is quite easy to perform. It is a super-fast, short breath in and out. Think of a dog panting very quickly, but through his nose. This breathing technique will decrease stress, increase your energy, and help you become more alert.

  • With mouth closed, you want to inhale and exhale through your nose very quickly with short breaths.
  • Dr. Weil suggests about 3 breaths per second, so you can see that the duration of the breaths is very short. At first, just do this for about 10 seconds and then as you feel comfortable, you can increase the time by 5 seconds until you reach one minute. Do not do this breathing technique for more than one minute.
  • The result should be more energy, clarity, and less stressed. You may feel like you do after a moderate workout.
  • Perform this breathing technique when you are in need of an energy boost.
  • Watch a video of Dr. Weil demonstrating this breathing technique 

    2. Equal Breathing

This type of breathing is quite easy to do. Simply inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four and then exhale for a count of four. You may count to five or six if you’d like, but be sure that the inhale and exhale breaths are equal.

This technique will help relieve some stress, calm down the mind and the body, and help you to focus better. Do this as often as you’d like and especially if you are feeling anxiety pop up.

3. The Stimulating Breath

Here is another breathing technique by Dr. Andrew Weil called The Relaxing Breath or the 4-7-8 breath.

  • Here you will exhale through your mouth all the way and then inhale through your nose to the count of four. Then hold your breath for seven seconds and then exhale to the count of eight.
  • When you exhale, make a “whoosh” sound by pursing your lips together.
  • You may do this type of technique for 4 cycles and do it at least once daily when you are combatting anxiety. This works like a tranquilizer works, calming your nervous system. It also works better the more you practice the technique.
  • Use this technique for stress, anxiety, and when you have trouble falling asleep.
  • Watch a video of Dr. Weil demonstrating this breathing technique

The breath is powerful, so begin utilizing these breathing techniques and others in order to decrease your amount of stress and enjoy more peace and joy in your life.

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