Working with the breath is one of the simplest and most powerful techniques to relieve stress and tension. Below are three breathing techniques that will bring about a state of deep relaxation and well-being. Try them and see what you think.
1. Abdominal or Diaphragmatic Breathing
When we are stressed our breathing becomes rapid and shallow. By slowing and deepening our breathing we become more relaxed.
- Find a quite place where you will not be interrupted. Lie down on your back.
- Place your right hand on your abdomen just above your belly button. Place your left hand on your chest.
- Close your eyes and breathe in and out through your nose. Your breathing should come from your diaphragm meaning your right hand should rise and fall with your breathing while your left hand remains still.
- Bring your attention to the flow of your breath. Do not rush your breath but let it flow gently and smoothly.
- Practice this technique for at least 10 minutes a day.
2. Ocean Breath
This breathing technique relaxes the body, calms the mind and increases the flow of energy through the nervous system.
- Sit in a chair. Do not slouch as it rounds the spine, compresses the abdomen and prevents the free flow of breath.
- Close your eyes and focus on the breath
- Slightly contract the back of the throat, causing the breath to make a sound like the rise and fall of ocean waves against a beach. To make this easier at first imagine that you are holding a mirror. Open your mouth and exhale to “fog the mirror”. Next try making the same sound exhaling with your mouth closed. Now try it on inhalation continuing to keep the mouth closed. Practice until you can sustain ocean sound inhaling and exhaling with the mouth closed.
- Smooth out the flow of breath by shifting between inhalation and exhalation as smoothly as possible.
- Sustain ocean breath for several minutes.
3. Alternate Nostril Breath
This technique will quiet the mind and nervous system. As you consciously engage both nostrils you allow your body to become more balanced.
- Sit comfortably in a chair. Don’t slouch.
- Place your thumb gently against your right nostril closing it completely and inhale slowly through the left nostril.
- As soon as you finish inhaling gently close your left nostril with your index finger as you release your thumb from the right nostril.
- While keeping the left nostril closed exhale through the right nostril and then inhale through the right nostril.
- Release your index finger and close your right nostril with your thumb. Exhale and then inhale through the left nostril.
- Repeat this pattern of breathing for several minutes