Breathing Patterns for Stress Relief
A few favorites to help you relax
Hey friends - Here are some of our favorite breathing exercises for stress relief. The focus of the below exercises are to activate the parasympathetic side of the nervous system using slow breath-waves, long exhales and vocal resonance.
Explore, experiment and find what works best for you.
When we extend the length of our exhale, we send a powerful signal to our Autonomic Nervous System to let go and relax.
INHALE: 5 seconds (nose)
EXHALE: 10 seconds (nose or mouth)
Breathe slow and steady breaths while resting your awareness on the rise and fall of your diaphragm. Inhale through your nose, filling your lower diaphragm with air. On the exhale, gently let go through pursed lips or the nose (find which works best for you). During the Slow Breathing progressions, you might feel some slight air hunger. That’s okay! Stay with your breath, and don’t force anything.
Adapted Box Breathing
This adapted version of Box Breathing uses extended breath holds and exhales to calm the nervous system and balance the mind.
INHALE: 4 seconds (nose)
HOLD: 8 seconds
EXHALE: 8 seconds (nose or mouth)
HOLD: 4 seconds
Focus on breathing slow and steady breath waves while resting your awareness on the music.
Inhale softly for 4 seconds, expanding the belly as air fills the bottom of the lungs. Then, gently pause for 8 seconds with the lungs full of air. This is followed by slowly letting go of the exhale for 8 seconds, either through the nose or mouth. Lastly, gently hold for 4 seconds with empty lungs.
Brahmari, AKA the Humming Bee Breath, activates the Vegas Nerve, which signals to your brain all is well and to relax.
INHALE: 4 seconds
EXHALE: 8 seconds
With each breath, let your awareness rest on the area of the throat.
Inhale softly for 4 seconds, expanding the belly as air fills the bottom of the lungs. Without pausing, exhale softly for 8 seconds while humming - allowing your throat to vibrate with a MMMMM sound.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
This classic pranayama technique improves lung function and lowers heart rate, blood pressure, and sympathetic stress. It’s an effective technique to employ before a meeting, an event, or sleep.
LEFT NOSTRIL INHALE: 6 seconds
RIGHT NOSTRIL EXHALE: 6 seconds
RIGHT NOSTRIL INHALE: 6 seconds
LEFT NOSTRIL EXHALE: 6 seconds
Place the thumb of your right hand over your right nostril and the ring finger of that same hand on the left nostril. The forefinger and middle finger should rest between the eyebrows.
Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale through the left nostril slowly for 6 seconds. At the top of the breath, close the left nostril and lift the thumb to exhale through the right nostril. At the natural conclusion of the exhale, inhale through the right nostril.
The sigh is a "psychophysiological reset" – helping you return to a relaxed psychological and physical baseline. It's easy to do and a potent way to engage the parasympathetic side of the ANS.
Inhale deeply through your nose. Fill your lungs but be careful not to strain yourself.
Exhale out through your mouth. Let the air out in one big sigh and Imagine tension and stress leaving your body with the exhale. Exhale until you feel all the air has left your lungs. Repeat this cycle several times until you feel calm.
Guided Breathing for Stress Relief
Download the RESPIRA app and check out our symphonic breathwork meditations. Our catalog features guided Slow breathing, Adapted Box Breathing, and Humming. You can also use the free Cadence Timer to add the above exercises and breathe to a visual cue with stress-reducing symphonic music.
DISCLAIMER: This is not Medical or Health. Please consult a medical professional before starting any breathwork program, diet plan, or supplement protocol.