It’s no secret the world is stressful right now. And with colder months right around the corner, certain to keep us inside much more often (as if that’s even possible!), our stresses and anxieties might creep up a little more than usual. We of course know all of the stress relieving benefits associated with physical activity, but focusing on mindfulness, breathing, and meditation also can help with your mental health. Let’s explore breathing techniques.

Reduce Stress with Breathing Techniques

  1. Natural breath

Find a comfortable seated position, either upright in a chair, or criss cross applesauce on the floor. Try and sit up as straight and tall as possible. Rest your hands on your legs. Take a few breaths in and out as you naturally would, keeping your gaze soft and straight ahead. After a few breaths in and out, on your next exhale, slowly close your eyes. Pay attention to the length and depth of your breath. Are you breathing in slowly? Are you breaths long or short? Just observe and keep breathing. As you breathe, keeping your natural pace, start countin your breaths. The inahel is one, exhale is two, inhale three, exhale four, etc. all the way to ten, then start again from one. Repeat this as many times as you’d like until you slowly blink your eyes open again. 

I got a little more relaxed just writing that!

  1. Three part breath

Begin as you did with the natural breath exercise, in a comfortable seated position, either in a chair or criss cross applesauce on the floor. Keep your back nice and straight and rest your hands on your legs. Begin by breathing for a few breaths as you naturally would, and slowly close your eyes on an exhale. After a few more natural breaths, begin the three part breath. Inhale from your belly, into your chest, and into your collar bones. Hold the breath for a moment, then slowly exhale out through your collar bones, then your chest, then back down to your belly. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat. Try and have the breath travel up and down your torso as smoothly as possible, visualizing the breath traveling, but without holding it in any spot for too long. Repeat as many rounds as you’d like, and slowly blink your eyes open when you’re done.

  1. Alternate nostril breathing 

Begin seated in a comfortable position, either in a chair or criss cross applesauce on the floor. Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed. You left hand rests on your leg, while your right hand comes to your forehead. Rest your pointer and middle fingers of your right hand gently between your eyebrows, while your thumb and ring fingers hover on either side of your nostrils. Begin with a few natural breaths, gently closing your eyes. When you’re ready, gently plug your left nostril with your ring finger and inhale through your right nostril. Hold the breath for a moment, then lift your finger, and plug your right nostril with your thumb as you exhale through the left nostril. Inhale through the left, pause at the top of the breath, then use your ring finger to once again plug the left nostril, exhaling through the right. Inhale through the right nostril, pause, then exhale through the left and so on. Repeat for as long as you’d like, taking your time. Gently remove your right hand and resume your natural breath when you’re finished. Slowly blink open your eyes. 

Practice these breathing techniques and enjoy!