Four calming yoga breathing exercises
These four calming breathing techniques are based on the ancient pranayama yoga practice of controlling your breath. Adding breathing exercises like these to your daily routine can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
Exercise 1: Connect with your breathing
Let’s start by placing ourselves in a comfortable seated position.
For the first exercise we’re going to connect with our breathing. Take a few moments to close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Start noticing your natural breathing. How does it sound? Is it fast or slow? How does it feel? Is it shallow or deep? Try and connect with the way you’re feeling and breathe in and out.
Now let’s deepen our breath by taking a long’ deep breath in through the nose, and exhale through the mouth with a ‘haaa’ sound.
Breathe in again, and out with the ‘haaa’ sound.
Continue this breathing exercise a few more times, breathing slowly in through your nostrils, and out through the mouth.
Relax and return slowly back to your normal breathing pattern.
Exercise 2: Ocean breathing
This next breathing exercise promotes relaxation. It’s called ocean breathing because each long, deep and controlled breath sounds like the ocean.
Once you feel comfortable try to keep your mouth closed as you exhale, while tightening the back of your throat to produce the sound. You should also be engaging your tummy area. See if you can maintain the sound, even with your lips closed.
Now relax and return back to your normal breathing pattern.
Exercise 3: Alternate nostril breathing
From here, let’s move into alternate nostril breathing. This exercise will aim to help you breath more easily through the nose and mouth, and let go of any stress and tension.
Let your left hand rest on your left knee. Exhale and then press your right thumb against your right nostril to close it.
Now inhale through your left nostril and then close the left nostril with your thumb or fingers.
Open your right nostril and exhale through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril and then close this nostril.
Next open your left nostril and exhale through this side.
You have just completed one round. Let’s keep going and repeat a few more rounds, alternating between your left and right nostril, and ending on your left nostril.
Repeat this exercise three times or for longer if you wish.
Relax, and return back to your normal breathing.
Exercise 4: Cooling breath
This last breathing exercise is very calming and great for cooling down the entire body. To do it, you need to be able to curl the sides of your tongue. Not everyone can do this, so If you can’t just skip this exercise.
Fold your tongue, curling the sides to form a tube. Close your mouth and stick the end of your tongue out between your pursed lips.
Inhale slowly through the tube shape of your tongue as if you are sipping air through a straw. Let your breath expand your chest and belly.
Now close your mouth and exhale slowly through your nose.
Repeat this exercise at least five to 10 times. Or try it for longer if you have the time.
Try these calming breathing exercises when you wake up in the morning to prepare you for the day ahead. You can repeat them for up to 15 minutes at other times of the day too, or before you go to sleep, to boost your physical and mental wellbeing.