3 Breathing Techniques for Relaxation

Need a little relaxation in your day? Try some of these simple breathing techniques!

Whether it’s about work, money, relationships, or something else entirely, we all get stressed out sometimes. Not only is being stressed out totally un-fun, it’s bad for our bodies. When you’re stressed, your body releases stress hormones linked to health problems from insomnia and memory problems to obesity and heart disease.

We also tend to make bad choices when we’re stressed. When your body is in that “fight or flight” mode, we tend to either withdraw or lash out, and neither of these is healthy for our bodies or our relationships. Some people deal with stress by checking out: watching too much TV, eating junk food, smoking, or drinking. Others cope by becoming more on-edge. You might snap at your partner or fire off an angry email to a coworker without thinking about the consequences. For many people, we choose a little from column A and a little from column B. These unhealthy responses can compound our stresses, too.

Related Reading: Yoga Poses for Relaxation

You’ve probably heard the old “count to 10″ adage when it comes to stress, and this really isn’t that far off. Taking even a few minutes to step back and care for yourself can help you deal with stress in a more healthy way. Next time you feel yourself getting stressed out, get proactive! Remove yourself from the stressful situation as soon as you can – even if that means just excusing yourself to the restroom. Give your body and your brain some time to regroup, and try some of the breathing techniques on the next few pages to help calm you down naturally.

Next>> Alternate nostril breathing

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Relaxing Music

1. Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate nostril breathing is an ancient technique, and you can get the basics in the video above. Basically, the idea is to cycle the breath to help calm your mind and body. By purposefully breathing through first one side of the nose and then the other, you help stimulate both the left and right brain.

It requires quite a bit of concentration, which can soothe your nerves, as you focus on the breath rather than what’s bothering you.

Next>> 3 Step Breath

2. 3 Step Breath

The 3 step breath is one of my favorite exercises. The pauses let you examine the space in between your breaths – a space that’s calm, clear, and empty. When you hold your breath, you can also feel stress building in your body, and when you allow yourself to breathe again, you feel such a release. That contrast helps your body relax.

The video above recommends doing this exercise on the floor, but if you’re stuck at the office or somewhere else that laying down isn’t an option, just sitting in a chair will work fine. Just sit in a comfortable position in a chair or on the floor.

Next>> Breath Counting

3. Breath Counting

When you’re having a really hard time getting focused, breath counting is the simplest way to find your center and melt stress away. Basically, it is what it says it is: you count your deep inhalations and exhalations. The trick is, you only count up to 10, and you don’t worry about how many rounds of 10 you’ve done. Just breathe until you start to feel more at ease and relaxed. You can either count an inhalation and exhalation as one, or count each inhalation and each exhalation. The count isn’t what matters. Counting just helps you stay focused on your breathing.

During all of these breathing exercises, don’t beat yourself up for noticing sounds, smells, thoughts, or any other distractions. Instead, just gently rein yourself back in when you notice that your mind is wandering. It’s not about “clearing your head.” It’s about recognizing those distractions and re-focusing yourself without judgement.

Do you use any other breathing techniques to deal with stress? I’d love to hear what works for you in the comments!

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Fi T.
Fi T.about a year ago

It's about body and mind

Karen C.

Great article. I will try these 3 exercises and add them to mine.

Frank James
Frank James2 years ago

Another relaxation technique worth noting is ASMR. http://www.asmrstudio.com

Andreya B.
Andreya B.2 years ago

Great. Thanks!

Hollie Ferguson
Hollie Ferguson2 years ago

It's important to make sure you are breathing with your diaphragm, and not your chest muscles. People that suck in their bellies often use chest muscles to breathe, and as such, they don't get enough air...not to mention the stress on the chest muscles which can become dysfunctional later. The air should cause your belly to expand. Not only are you then getting full capacity, you are also helping bodily functions such as peristalsis of the intestines.

Danial W.
Past Member 2 years ago

The Action of a finger shows in the video for taking a breath is wrong.. Please refer the books and act accordingly before you le others to the wrong direction...

The Art of Yoga Breathing

When the Breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the Breath is still, so is the mind still." - Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Breathing is life. It is one of our most vital functions. One of the Five Principles of Yoga is Pranayama or Breathing Exercise which promotes proper breathing. In a Yogic point of view, proper breathing is to bring more oxygen to the blood and to the brain, and to control Prana or the vital life energy. Pranayama Yoga also goes hand in hand with the Asanas. The union of these two Yogic Principles is considered as the highest form of purification and self-discipline, covering both mind and body.

Danial W.
Past Member 2 years ago

It's not possible to learn just through reading the article.. show the video for proper way of breathing

Kathy P.
Kathy P.2 years ago

I have been reading books on breathing and health. So important to breathe properly and to take deep breathes.
Thank you.

Helen Wu
Helen Wu2 years ago

Thank you for sharing :)