Why use breathing exercises when you are stressed?

Breathing conditions our existence. It is an obvious truth, but one that is little appreciated. We take thousands of breaths every day, not thinking about the fact that proper breathing affects our health and mood. Breathing is not only a source of energy – it is also a medicine for broken nerves and the key to understanding ourselves.

Breathing is used to receive the oxygen our body needs and to eliminate carbon dioxide. The lungs expand on inhalation to bring oxygen into the bloodstream and relax on exhalation to release CO2.

There are two very complementary forms of breathing: thoracic breathing and abdominal breathing. When we breathe, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles organize the breathing movement by contracting to bring air into our lungs and relaxing to release it.

This mechanism is well-oiled and works in sync to meet our daily oxygen needs. But when we are anxious and emotions overwhelm us, the machine goes haywire and our breathing becomes anarchic. Our body triggers a reaction of stress and impending danger, and our breathing speeds up. In fact, we take in an abnormal amount of oxygen while eliminating far more carbon dioxide than we produce. This is called hyperventilation.

The pulse rate increases and a feeling of suffocation sets in at the level of the larynx, due to lack of breath and air. It is as if we were in apnea. Then we breathe through the mouth in an accelerated way and we have a feeling of asphyxia. Some people can even trigger uncontrolled asthma attacks when they are too stressed.

Instead of breathing in with the belly, we inflate our chest. This response is not effective enough to receive the amount of oxygen we need. Then the body gets tired and the diaphragm, because it is too much solicited, remains contracted and does not relax anymore. The result? Our breathing becomes less efficient.

6-0115 (1)-min

Why use breathing exercises when you are stressed?

Breathing conditions our existence. It is an obvious truth, but one that is little appreciated. We take thousands of breaths every day, not thinking about the fact that proper breathing affects our health and mood. Breathing is not only a source of energy – it is also a medicine for broken nerves and the key to understanding ourselves.

Breathing is used to receive the oxygen our body needs and to eliminate carbon dioxide. The lungs expand on inhalation to bring oxygen into the bloodstream and relax on exhalation to release CO2.

There are two very complementary forms of breathing: thoracic breathing and abdominal breathing. When we breathe, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles organize the breathing movement by contracting to bring air into our lungs and relaxing to release it.

This mechanism is well-oiled and works in sync to meet our daily oxygen needs. But when we are anxious and emotions overwhelm us, the machine goes haywire and our breathing becomes anarchic. Our body triggers a reaction of stress and impending danger, and our breathing speeds up. In fact, we take in an abnormal amount of oxygen while eliminating far more carbon dioxide than we produce. This is called hyperventilation.

The pulse rate increases and a feeling of suffocation sets in at the level of the larynx, due to lack of breath and air. It is as if we were in apnea. Then we breathe through the mouth in an accelerated way and we have a feeling of asphyxia. Some people can even trigger uncontrolled asthma attacks when they are too stressed.

Instead of breathing in with the belly, we inflate our chest. This response is not effective enough to receive the amount of oxygen we need. Then the body gets tired and the diaphragm, because it is too much solicited, remains contracted and does not relax anymore. The result? Our breathing becomes less efficient.

6-0115 (1)-min

Deep breathing benefits

Breathing correctly can be learned and requires a real commitment, but the benefits for our health are so positive that it would be a shame to deprive ourselves of them.

Good breathing allows us to get rid of all the toxins and carbon dioxide that pollute our bodies. By adopting quality breathing, we lower our blood pressure, our circulating level of cortisol, and one of the hormones responsible for our stress if it is produced in excess. We also prevent cardiovascular diseases, including myocardial infarction and stroke.

But that’s not all. Proper breathing is also the key to our mental well-being. If we breathe badly, our brain suffers the consequences because it is badly irrigated. But if we give it all the oxygen it needs, we improve our intellectual capacities and our attention, as well as affect our thoughts and emotions.

Deep breathing benefits

Breathing correctly can be learned and requires a real commitment, but the benefits for our health are so positive that it would be a shame to deprive ourselves of them.

Good breathing allows us to get rid of all the toxins and carbon dioxide that pollute our bodies. By adopting quality breathing, we lower our blood pressure, our circulating level of cortisol, and one of the hormones responsible for our stress if it is produced in excess. We also prevent cardiovascular diseases, including myocardial infarction and stroke.

But that’s not all. Proper breathing is also the key to our mental well-being. If we breathe badly, our brain suffers the consequences because it is badly irrigated. But if we give it all the oxygen it needs, we improve our intellectual capacities and our attention, as well as affect our thoughts and emotions.

The power of conscious breathing

There is a close relationship between the breath and the psyche. The breathing rhythm changes due to thoughts and emotions. When we feel something intense, we instinctively shallow, accelerate, or hold our breath. If we are stressed and tense for a long time, our breathing will be affected.

Many philosophical systems attach great importance to the way we breathe. It is believed that it is not only a chemical reaction but also a complex energetic process. Conscious breathwork has been a part of yoga, tai-chi, and other spiritual schools in the East for millennia. It is also appreciated by modern psychotherapy.

Breathing is energy – also from a physiological point of view. The process of breathing supplies the cells with the oxygen they need to burn organic substances. During this combustion, energy is produced. A better-oxygenated body functions better.

That’s why after a long walk in the air, the body becomes supple and the brain becomes soberer. It’s also no secret that yogis who focus their attention on their breathing stay fit and clear-minded well into old age. So if you want to feel healthier and improve your quality of life, start with mindful breathing.

Below are a few breathing techniques for anxiety.

The power of conscious breathing

There is a close relationship between the breath and the psyche. The breathing rhythm changes due to thoughts and emotions. When we feel something intense, we instinctively shallow, accelerate, or hold our breath. If we are stressed and tense for a long time, our breathing will be affected.

Many philosophical systems attach great importance to the way we breathe. It is believed that it is not only a chemical reaction but also a complex energetic process. Conscious breathwork has been a part of yoga, tai-chi, and other spiritual schools in the East for millennia. It is also appreciated by modern psychotherapy.

Breathing is energy – also from a physiological point of view. The process of breathing supplies the cells with the oxygen they need to burn organic substances. During this combustion, energy is produced. A better-oxygenated body functions better.

That’s why after a long walk in the air, the body becomes supple and the brain becomes soberer. It’s also no secret that yogis who focus their attention on their breathing stay fit and clear-minded well into old age. So if you want to feel healthier and improve your quality of life, start with mindful breathing.

Here are a few breathing techniques for anxiety.

Box Breathing

This breathing technique helps to restore a natural and healthy breathing rhythm and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This allows your body to move from a fight/flight state to a state of relaxation and recovery. It was originally developed for American soldiers and police officers who experience severe stress. Today you can use it too.

From theory to practice:

Inhale for about 4 seconds. Hold your breath for another 4 seconds. Exhale for about 4 seconds. Hold your breath again for 4 seconds. Repeat the whole cycle.

Alternate Breathing

Alternate breathing is one of the well-known Indian deep breathing techniques, called “nâdî shodhana pranayama” in Sanskrit. It consists in purifying our inner energies by learning to breathe through one nostril and the other. The benefits are multiple: better health, more stable nervous balance, regenerating sleep, and reduced tension. The work allows, as a bonus, to explore your inner system and to gain in concentration.

From theory to practice:

Start by plugging the left nostril with the ring finger and exhale from the right nostril. Inhale from the same nostril, block it with the thumb, then exhale from the left. Repeat by breathing in from the left nostril, plugging it with the ring finger, and breathing out from the right… And so on, for one minute. Finish the exercise by exhaling slowly through both nostrils.

Abdominal Breathing

Breathing is not only done through the nostrils but also through the belly. Long forgotten, this part of the body can indeed radically change your way of doing things, and provide healing benefits. By practicing abdominal breathing you will increase your breathing amplitude by more than 70% (compared to 30% for thoracic breathing). This mechanism is natural in babies and favored by many opera singers. It allows you to better oxygenate your brain, improve your physical performance, and improve your general well-being by reducing stress.

From theory to practice:

At the office or at home, sit in your chair and place your hands on your stomach. The objective is to feel the back and forth movement of your belly. Breathe in for three seconds through your nose, inflating your belly without forcing it, block the air for three seconds and then exhale slowly through your mouth, letting your belly become flat again. Do it three times a day or more if you feel the need to relax.

Cardiac Coherence

It is a relaxation method that consists of controlling one’s heartbeat in order to better regulate the brain. It allows us to obtain a stable emotional state, by acting instantly on our tensions and by decreasing our anxiety in the long term. This technique allows us to refocus on ourselves, reduce stress, and increase our intellectual capacities.

From theory to practice:

Adopt the “365” method from the best-selling book called Heart Coherence 365, published by Dr. David O’Hare. Take a five-minute break three times a day to practice the exercise. Sit comfortably in a chair with your back straight and breathe with your stomach six times a minute. Then do the same exercise five times in a row until you reach five minutes.

Projection Breathing

Visualization, associated with breathing, is a very effective method. The objective is to imagine, with eyes half-closed or closed, some desirable elements of our environment, while performing a breathing exercise. We can mentally imagine a pleasant object, a pleasant memory, but also a pleasant sensation such as a sunbath. The main thing is to immerse yourself in positive thinking.

From theory to practice:

Standing with your arms at your side and your eyes closed, breathe in for several seconds while visualizing joyful events from your life. Then exhale through your mouth, spreading this feeling of well-being to your entire body and releasing any negative tension. The exercise can be practiced every morning, but also at night if necessary.

4-7-8

The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a famous breathing exercise for sleep. This simple and extremely effective method will help you to relax and overcome insomnia. In this method, you focus on taking deep breaths, which will help you reduce anxiety, calm your mind and fall asleep peacefully. Some proponents of this technique even claim that it helps you fall asleep within 1 minute! It is certainly proven that deep and rhythmic breathing has a very relaxing effect and has a positive impact on our nervous system.

From theory to practice:

Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 7 seconds. Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat the whole cycle as many times as you need, starting with 4 cycles.

Breathing During Meditation

A simple and effective method of working with the breath is meditation used in all Eastern schools of life. Breathing meditation in a seated position uses abdominal breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing. It is the most natural and similar to the way we breathed as children. It is designed to use the whole lungs, especially the lower lobes, which are slowly turned off as we age and our bodies become tenser.

Abdominal breathing during meditation has another meaning.

It directs thought to our energy center, which is located right at the abdominal level. When we live in a hurry, we unconsciously keep our energy in our heads. By directing the breath downward, we slowly calm ourselves and after a while, we are able to find balance in everything we do.

Breath yourself out of stress with YogiLab

3BC Brian-148 (1)-min_11zon (1)

Stress can cause respiratory distress or hyperventilation. Paying attention to your breath can help you find inner calm. You can easily incorporate the following breathing exercises for anxiety into your daily life.

All breathing techniques teach one thing – that the breath is a powerful source of health and peace. It can be our inner guide with which we reach the subconscious, learn about ourselves, and get in touch with our intuition.

A strong, deep breath can bring immediate relief in a moment of stress. We often use it instinctively, such as yawning. Breathing is excellent medicine, which in addition does not cost anything and which we can always use.

We hope these breathing exercises to reduce stress were useful. Follow Yogilab and our breathwork master Brian Kelly on social platforms for more insights and retreats both online and in Bali.

Breathing exercises to reduce stress

Stress can cause respiratory distress or hyperventilation. Paying attention to your breath can help you find inner calm. You can easily incorporate the following breathing exercises for anxiety into your daily life.

Find out which breathing exercise for anxiety works best for you. Follow the step-by-step deep breathing exercises instructions. Focus on your breath and notice how quickly tension disappears and your body relaxes.

Box breathing

This breathing technique helps to restore a natural and healthy breathing rhythm and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This allows your body to move from a fight/flight state to a state of relaxation and recovery. It was originally developed for American soldiers and police officers who experience severe stress. Today you can use it too.

From theory to practice:

Inhale for about 4 seconds. Hold your breath for another 4 seconds. Exhale for about 4 seconds. Hold your breath again for 4 seconds. Repeat the whole cycle.

Alternate breathing

Alternate breathing is one of the well-known Indian deep breathing techniques, called “nâdî shodhana pranayama” in Sanskrit. It consists in purifying our inner energies by learning to breathe through one nostril and the other. The benefits are multiple: better health, more stable nervous balance, regenerating sleep, and reduced tension. The work allows, as a bonus, to explore your inner system and to gain in concentration.

From theory to practice:

Start by plugging the left nostril with the ring finger and exhale from the right nostril. Inhale from the same nostril, block it with the thumb, then exhale from the left. Repeat by breathing in from the left nostril, plugging it with the ring finger, and breathing out from the right… And so on, for one minute. Finish the exercise by exhaling slowly through both nostrils.

Abdominal breathing

Breathing is not only done through the nostrils but also through the belly. Long forgotten, this part of the body can indeed radically change your way of doing things, and provide healing benefits. By practicing abdominal breathing you will increase your breathing amplitude by more than 70% (compared to 30% for thoracic breathing). This mechanism is natural in babies and favored by many opera singers. It allows you to better oxygenate your brain, improve your physical performance, and improve your general well-being by reducing stress.

From theory to practice:

At the office or at home, sit in your chair and place your hands on your stomach. The objective is to feel the back and forth movement of your belly. Breathe in for three seconds through your nose, inflating your belly without forcing it, block the air for three seconds and then exhale slowly through your mouth, letting your belly become flat again. Do it three times a day or more if you feel the need to relax.

Cardiac coherence

It is a relaxation method that consists of controlling one’s heartbeat in order to better regulate the brain. It allows us to obtain a stable emotional state, by acting instantly on our tensions and by decreasing our anxiety in the long term. This technique allows us to refocus on ourselves, reduce stress, and increase our intellectual capacities.

From theory to practice:

Adopt the “365” method from the best-selling book called Heart Coherence 365, published by Dr. David O’Hare. Take a five-minute break three times a day to practice the exercise. Sit comfortably in a chair with your back straight and breathe with your stomach six times a minute. Then do the same exercise five times in a row until you reach five minutes.

Projection breathing

Visualization, associated with breathing, is a very effective method. The objective is to imagine, with eyes half-closed or closed, some desirable elements of our environment, while performing a breathing exercise. We can mentally imagine a pleasant object, a pleasant memory, but also a pleasant sensation such as a sunbath. The main thing is to immerse yourself in positive thinking.

From theory to practice:

Standing with your arms at your side and your eyes closed, breathe in for several seconds while visualizing joyful events from your life. Then exhale through your mouth, spreading this feeling of well-being to your entire body and releasing any negative tension. The exercise can be practiced every morning, but also at night if necessary.

4-7-8

The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a famous breathing exercise for sleep. This simple and extremely effective method will help you to relax and overcome insomnia. In this method, you focus on taking deep breaths, which will help you reduce anxiety, calm your mind and fall asleep peacefully. Some proponents of this technique even claim that it helps you fall asleep within 1 minute! It is certainly proven that deep and rhythmic breathing has a very relaxing effect and has a positive impact on our nervous system.

From theory to practice:

Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 7 seconds. Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat the whole cycle as many times as you need, starting with 4 cycles.

Breathing during meditation

A simple and effective method of working with the breath is meditation used in all Eastern schools of life. Breathing meditation in a seated position uses abdominal breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing. It is the most natural and similar to the way we breathed as children. It is designed to use the whole lungs, especially the lower lobes, which are slowly turned off as we age and our bodies become tenser.

Abdominal breathing during meditation has another meaning.

It directs thought to our energy center, which is located right at the abdominal level. When we live in a hurry, we unconsciously keep our energy in our heads. By directing the breath downward, we slowly calm ourselves and after a while, we are able to find balance in everything we do.

Breath yourself out of stress with YogiLab

3BC Brian-148 (1)-min_11zon (1)

All breathing techniques teach one thing – that the breath is a powerful source of health and peace. It can be our inner guide with which we reach the subconscious, learn about ourselves, and get in touch with our intuition.

A strong, deep breath can bring immediate relief in a moment of stress. We often use it instinctively, such as yawning. Breathing is excellent medicine, which in addition does not cost anything and which we can always use.

We hope these breathing exercises to reduce stress were useful. Follow Yogilab and our breathwork master Brian Kelly on social platforms for more insights and retreats both online and in Bali.

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