When stressed or in pain, your breathing may be very shallow and uneven, you may hold your breath without even realising it and you may find it difficult to concentrate. Learning specialised breathing techniques can have a large impact on your life, giving you the ability to calm a busy mind, ease physical pain and reduce stress and anxiety.
If you think about it, this is a technique available to everyone, anywhere and at anytime as we always have our breath and lungs with us. It is one thing in our life that we can have complete control over.
By practicing breathing you may feel some of these advantages
- Increased energy
- Lowering of blood pressure
- Improved concentration
- Reduction in physical pain
- Feeling of calm and peace
- Physical tension eases
- Anxiety and stress levels lower
- Release of emotions
Breathing in a concentrated way will help you to focus on the ‘here and now’ and not dwell on the past or worry about the future. This is a huge calming effect.
When you practice any of these exercises you must be aware of your wellbeing and if you start to feel uncomfortable it is advisable to stop and return to gentle rhythmic breathing.
Abdominal Breathing – Calming
By learning to ‘belly’ breathe you can absorb more oxygen and get rid of more waste products. It has a profound affect on your nervous system allowing a calming, relaxing effect to occur.
This can be practiced lying down or sat in a chair
- Just concentrate on your breathing pattern. Is it shallow? Is it irregular? Are you breathing with your chest? Is it fast or slow?
- Place one hand on your upper chest and one hand on your abdomen just below your ribs.
- As you breathe in, your abdomen should rise and when you breathe out your abdomen should fall. There should be very little, if any, movement in your chest.
- Keep your breath smooth and regular.
- To help focus your breath you could imagine the breath encircling you. When you breathe in imagine the breath washing up your spine to the top of your head and when you breathe out it washes down the front of your body to form a circle.
- You can practice this exercise for any length of time and as often as you wish.
Alternate Nostril Breathing – Balancing
This technique is excellent for balancing the mind, harmonising thoughts, balancing the flow of energy and releasing stress
- Sit in a comfortable position, making sure your back is supported and comfortable and your feet are on the ground.
- Place the tip of your index and middle fingers of the right hand in between your eyebrows; the ring finger next to your left nostril and the thumb on your right nostril.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
- Remember to use long, deep smooth breaths. If you feel any discomfort then return to normal breathing before continuing again.
- Close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through your left nostril.
- Close your left nostril, release your thumb from the right nostril and exhale through your right.
- Inhale through your right nostril, close your right nostril, release the left nostril and exhale through your left.
- Repeat this cycle for 3-5 times and return to normal breathing.
Increasing the cycles, increasing the frequency of practice or lengthening your breaths can develop this practice.
Conscious breathing – Centring
This is a very calming, centring and focusing breathing technique. It is great for keeping you in the ‘here and now’
- Sit in a comfortable position, making sure your back is supported and comfortable and your feet are on the ground. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
- Bring your attention to your breathing; breathe in and out through your nose as naturally as you can. You do not need to worry about the rhythm or depth as this can alter throughout.
- Breathe in and count ‘one’ when you breathe out. Repeat this until you reach ‘five’
- Begin a new cycle – ‘one – five’.
- Try not to count higher than ‘five’ by focusing on your counting. If you find yourself counting higher you will know your focus has drifted.
Practice this for 10 minutes if time allows.
4 – 7 – 8 Breathing – Relaxing
This technique has very calming qualities. It is great when you find yourself in a stressful situation, feel yourself tensing up from outside influences or when you are suffering from physical discomfort or pain.
This is a good exercise to do before bed to help induce sleep.
- Sit in a comfortable position, making sure your back is supported and comfortable and your feet are on the ground. This exercise can be practiced in any position but is best learnt in the seated position.
- Place the tip of tongue behind your upper front teeth. Your tongue will need to be in this position during the whole exercise; it may feel uncomfortable to begin with but bear with it.
- Close your eyes and exhale completely making a ‘whooshing’ sound.
- Inhale through your nose for a count of 4
- Hold your breath for a count of 7
- Exhale through your mouth making a ‘whooshing’ sound for a count of 8
- Repeat this cycle 3 more times – a total of 4
If you feel any discomfort during this exercise, then speed up the breaths but maintain 4 -7-8. The more you practice the more you will be able to slow it down.
Repeat this at least twice a day for good results although you cannot repeat too much.
The information on this site is provided for your information only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your GP or other healthcare professional. The information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease.