woman practising relaxed breathing techniques holding flower

 

Did you know that your breathing changes when you feel tense or stressed? It can happen without you realising. Here are our top tips to help you breathe, relax and stay calm.

When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, your breathing rate can increase. This can often lead to ‘over breathing’ which can disrupt the chemistry in the body. To restore balance and bring calmness into your body, it’s important to practice deep, full breathing.

Stress is bad for your body

Here’s the thing about stress, it really takes its toll on your health. It can make your body feel tense, it can cause stomach upset and disrupt the quality of sleep. Stress can make you feel irritable, distressed and demotivated. It can also weaken your immune system.  And these are just a few side effects!

Whether you feel emotionally or physically stressed, look after yourself. Try these breathing techniques to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety:

 

Simple Belly Breathing:

This is a super quick and straightforward way to calm over-breathing and restore a feeling of calmness. Find a comfortable sitting position, or lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet placed on the floor. Put your hand on your stomach and take a full breath into your belly, pushing your hand towards the ceiling. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing can help correct ‘over-breathing.’ Be sure to expand your rib cage to get a full, deep breath and repeat 10 times until you feel calmer. You can do this breathing technique anywhere, anytime. It’s simple, yet effective.

 

Alternate Nostril Breathing:

Also known as Nadi Shodhan. This is one of my favourite breathing techniques. I often use this technique if I’m feeling stressed or if I’m struggling to fall asleep. You start by sitting comfortably.  I usually sit with my legs crossed or you could also sit in lotus position (for all yogi readers). Follow these steps:

  • Rest your left arm on your left leg with your palm facing upwards.
  • Using your right hand, place your middle finger on your forehead, ring finger and little finger on your right nostril and thumb on your left nostril
  • Gently press your thumb down on your right nostril and breathe out the left nostril
  • Then when you feel it’s naturally time to breathe in again, alternate by gently pressing your left nostril with your ring finger and little finger, breathing in from the right nostril
  • Gently press your thumb down on your right nostril, release your left nostril and breathe.

This pattern of using your fingers to press one nostril whilst you breathe in or out from the alternate nostril, is the essence of this type of breathing. Try doing this exercise 9 or 10 times with your eyes closed. When you start breathing ‘normally’ again after this, you get a real sense of calm.

 

Child’s Pose Breathing:

This is a yoga breathing technique but you get double the benefit. This stress busting yoga position can reduce stress and fatigue whilst opening your back for deep, relaxing breathing. Try this yoga technique if you’ve returned home from a busy, tiring day at work. I would avoid it if you have knee injuries, or if you’re pregnant! To get started, follow these steps:

  • Start on your hands and knees, on a comfortable surface or yoga mat if you have one
  • Take a deep breathe, spread your knees apart and move your buttocks back to rest on your knees. Sit up straight and then bow forward, so your torso rests on your thighs and your head rests lightly on the floor
  • Now, extend your arms forward and lightly rest your palms on your floor in-front of you. Relax all your muscles until you feel comfortable in this position
  • Broaden your upper back and breathe deep and full into your lungs
  • Close your eyes and take in these full, deep breaths. Repeat 10 times until you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.

Next time you start to feel anxious, over-stressed or overwhelmed give one of these breathing techniques a go! They only take a few minutes but can have a positive impact on how you feel. By repeatedly practising a breathing technique it can soon become a familiar routine that can feel comforting. Got a breathing technique to share? Drop us the info in the comment below or tweet us @totmorganic.