Breathing for Stress Relief is one of the easiest ways to relax. I have been using these breathing techniques for years and they produce immediate and excellent results. This is because of the basic rule of meditation: your mind follows your breathing.
Science if finally catching up the ancient arts of the yogis. We know now that breathing is closely related to regulation of the autonomic nervous system. You can effect your perception of stress and your emotional reactions by practicing breathing exercises.
Exercise #1: The Smooth Breath
In mantra meditation, the key to keeping yourself both relaxed and focused is in breathing. Close your eyes, sit quietly and practice breathing for stress relief following these guidelines.
1) Breathe silently. The breath is quiet with no external sounds.
2) No pause between breaths. Let the inhalation melt into the exhalation and the exhalation melt into the inhalation. Do not hold your breath or pause the breath.
3) No jerkiness. Smooth out all bumps in the breath. If you focus in this way, the mind will become smoothe too.
4) Even and slow. Slow your breath down a bit, let the inhalation and exhalation be approximately equal in length.
5) Bring your attention to the diaphragm, the palm-sized area just below the breast bone. The muscles of the chest and the lower abdomen are not needed to breathe diaphragmatically. Let your chest and abdomen relax.
Exercise #2: The Relaxing Breath
Dr. Andrew Weil calls this the 4-7-8 breath, which is a great way to remember this simple breathing for stress relief technique.
1. Exhale, letting all your breath come out with a whoosh sound.
2. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose as you count to four.
3. Hold your breath to as you count to seven.
4. Exhale, letting all your breath come out with a whoosh sound as you count to eight.
5. Repeat for a total of four breaths.
Exercise #3: Breathing Through the Heart
This is my favorite breathing and meditation technique for stress relief. It leaves you in a state of warm happiness.
1. Bring your attention to your heart.
2. Imagine that you are breathing through your heart. Feel each exhalation and inhalation through your heart.
3. Make your breath even as directed in exercise #1.
4. Bring a feeling of gratitude, love or forgiveness into your heart as you continue the breathing practice.
5. This is a great practice to do before sleep as it helps with insomnia.