Breathing Practices for Stress Relief

Breathing Techniques

One of the oldest “self help” movements is based on breathing, helping us to use our breath, and how we breathe in order to reduce stress and to achieve a sense of connection with the world around us: Prana Yoga.

Prana is the Sanskrit word for “breath” and also means “life.” Therefore, prana can be translated as “the breath of life” or “life energy.”

In these pages we will outline a few simple breathing techniques and some places where you can find more information.

Belly Breathing

This description is adapted from Authentic Breathing Resources.

Lie down comfortably on your back on a bed or mat or carpeted floor. Slightly bend your knees (perhaps put a pillow under them) and have your feet flat on the floor. Now pay attention to your breathing, don’t try to change it, just watch it’s rhythms and feel the ebb and flow of your breath.

While you are breathing, rub your hands together so that they warm up and then put your hands on your belly, with the center of your lower hand on your belly button. Feel how your breathing changes.

You may notice that your belly wants to expand when you breath in and contract when you breath out. Let this happen, but don’t force it.

If your belly seems tight rub your hands until they are warm again and then gently massage your belly. Notice how it softens and relaxes.

Notice how you feel when you breath with your belly and your lungs, rather than just with your lungs. Pay attention to the greater energy that comes from a full breath, and the greater ability to let go of nervous or tension energy.

After you have explored this difference thoroughly, you may notice as sensation of warmth, comfort and relaxation that spreads through your body.

Belly breathing, if it is done two or three times a day, can have a powerful effect on overall levels of tension and energy.

4-7-8 Breath

This tip comes from Andrew Weil’s Optimum Health Plan .

Touch the tip of your tongue to the ridge in your gum that is right behind your upper front teeth. Breath in through your nose for 4 counts. Hold your breath for 7 counts. Then breath out through your mouth, “whoosh,” to the count of 8. Repeat this 4 times, twice a day.