6 Breathing Exercises To Relax In 5 Minutes

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Breathing Exercises To Relax

How we breathe is how we live. While everyone knows that breathing is vital, the way we do it is often overlooked.

Our breathing is an underestimated ally on the path to a healthy and harmonious life.

What are breathing exercises and how can they help you feel less stressed? And which Breathing Exercises To Relax quickly that I can do at home? You will learn this and much more in this article.

Best breathing exercises to relax quickly

Today we often breathe shallowly with a hasty chest breath.

Then think of a baby that breathes smoothly and full while sleeping on its back. How smoothly that belly goes up, the arms open, the chest free, the legs resting relaxed. The epitome of being relaxed and carefree .

As babies, we are carefree about the future and have no past to worry about. We live with an open attitude in the now. This is the healthiest state of being.

sleeping baby

Each breath is a process of give and take, an infinite exchange with the universe.

As we age and face the challenges of life that may involve hurt, humiliation, or punishment, we absorb tension and nervousness from our families and those around us.

As a result, we learn to control ourselves to be “good” and “good”.

This often comes at the expense of our inner desires. By holding ourselves back in this way, we unconsciously tense certain muscles and restrict our breathing.

In Eastern medicine they know that the life energy can no longer flow freely, so that we die, yes, faster. So breathing is living, but how do you do it correctly?

What is a breathing exercise?

While we inhale and exhale an average of half a billion times during our lifetime, we don’t always realize that our mind, body and breath are intimately connected and even influence each other.

Our breathing is influenced by our thoughts, and our thoughts and bodily functions can be influenced by our breathing.

Sidenote: Researchers have shown that practicing simple, deep breathing regularly has the following benefits:

Woman lying on the grass

In a breathing exercise, the conscious attention is focused on the breath. You learn to breathe as you would in a relaxed, relaxed state.

That way, your body will relax and your mind will automatically follow. Breathing is everyone’s birthright, so we always have the key to many stress-related problems at hand for free.

You can establish a regular routine to do breathing exercises (e.g. right after waking up or just before your yoga practice), or just when you have time (e.g. waiting for the bus…).

Why breathing exercises are good for stress

When stressful thoughts enter your mind, the sympathetic nervous system responds by triggering your body’s fight or flight mechanism. This makes you feel a rush of released energy to be able to respond to this perceived ‘danger’.

Your breathing then becomes shallower and occurs mainly from the chest, which prevents the lower part of your lungs from filling with air properly. This can make you short of breath.

At the same time, hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released into your blood, raising your blood pressure and leaving you in a very alert yet exhausting state.

By taking a deep breath you counteract this stress response immediately and create peace and calm in body and mind.

Woman who breathes

Deep, slow breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, undoing the stress mechanism.

Deep breathing also stimulates an important cranial nerve – the vagus nerve – which slows your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure and relaxes your body and mind.

There’s more, because by taking deep breaths regularly, you actually train the abs and diaphragm, instead of the muscles in the upper body and neck.

If you learn to breathe in this way, you can enjoy a more efficient oxygen intake with the lower part of the lungs also fully cooperating.

Deep breathing is more efficient and relaxing, allowing a greater volume of oxygen to reach the tissues and cells in your body.

Woman feeling relieved

In addition to reversing the stress response in your body, conscious, deep breathing also allows you to better manage your emotions. It is precisely by taking a conscious and deep breath that your emotions are not bottled up, but they become palpable.

By ‘learning’ to exhale upwards, instead of downwards, we learn to express emotions through sighing, singing, laughing and even crying. This is how we free them and they are not so reactive.

By ‘learning’ to exhale upwards, instead of downwards, we learn to express emotions through sighing, singing, laughing and even crying. This is how we free them and they are not so reactive.

Rest and relaxation

Do you feel overworked, overwhelmed and overstressed?

You really don’t have to invest in an expensive massage session or vacation to find that inner peace. A healthy pair of lungs and ten minutes every day is all you need to tackle that stress problem.

While the effects of breathing exercises on stress have not been thoroughly researched (at least not in a scientific setting), many experts applaud the use of breathing exercises for stress-related problems and for simply living more consciously with a balanced mind.

Breathing is also an essential part of Yoga. Pranayama is one of the most important aspects of yoga practice.

Woman in a yoga position by the water

By consciously breathing during the yoga exercises, the exercise becomes more than just physical. You stretch muscles but your breathing extends into its furthest parts so that all tensions disappear.

This can also include mental and emotional tensions.

‘Prana’ means vital life energy in Sanskrit. Eastern currents believe that it is that energy that makes us live. Also the well-known term ‘chi’ encompasses the same idea. Yama on the other hand means ‘to direct, to control’ in Sanskrit.

The goal of Pranayama is to remove as many blockages in your body as possible so that that life energy can flow freely. The more freely the ‘ prana ‘ can flow, the healthier we are.

Have you ever noticed your breathing when you are completely relaxed? For example, right after waking up. You breathe slowly but deeply.

The air flows in and out of you like the waves of an ocean. Breathing exercises can help you relax because they make your body feel relaxed.

Below we have listed some effective breathing exercises for you.

1. Nadi Shodhana Breathing Exercise

This is a beautiful technique that helps to keep the mind free from worries, happy and calm.

Taking a few minutes every day for this pranayama practice could significantly reduce your stress level. It releases retained tensions and helps with fatigue.

Woman sitting cross-legged doing breathing exercises

How the exercise works: 

Nadi Shodan, which literally means the purification of energy channels, is mainly aimed at clearing and purifying the subtle channels of the mind-body complex.

  1. Sit in a comfortable chair or on the floor in the lotus position. Keep your back straight and relax your shoulders. Relax your face.
  2. Place your left hand on your left knee with the palm facing up. You can also place your fingers in the Chin Mudra, which simply means that your thumb and index finger are touching each other gently.
  3. Place the tip of your index and middle fingers between the eyebrows. Your pinky and ring finger rest on your left nostril and your thumb on your right nostril.
  4. Close your right nostril with your thumb and exhale through your left nostril.
  5. Now inhale through your left nostril and close this side gently with your ring finger and little finger. Remove your thumb from the right side and exhale along the right side.
  6. Inhale through your right nostril and exhale through your left. This completes Nadi Shodhan’s first lap.

Repeat this sequence 9 times. Remember to always inhale on the side you last exhaled. Keep your eyes closed and concentrate on taking deep, slow breaths without forcing.

Nadi Shodhan pranayama helps to calm your mind and prepares you for meditation.

2. Ujjayi Breathing Exercise

Ujjayi is usually translated as triumphant breathing and has been used as an aid in Hatha yoga for thousands of years. This technique is also known as the ocean breath.

Because this breath produces a certain sound, it helps us to coordinate breath and movement, making the yoga exercises more rhythmic.

It’s a very simple exercise that doesn’t require much explanation:

  1. Close your lips and breathe in and out through your nose.
  2. Breathe in through your nose a little deeper than usual.
  3. Exhale slowly through your nose while tensing the muscles at the back of your throat. This entails a sound that can be compared to the sound of an ocean.

If you’re having trouble producing this sound, try this:

  • With your mouth open, produce the sound “Haaah” (like you would fog a mirror). Repeat this several times.
  • Now close your mouth and try to make this same sound, but this time breathing in and out through your nose
  • For some people, the thought of Darth Vader from Star Wars helps.

3. Progressive relaxation

This exercise involves tensing different muscles in your body first and then relaxing again.

This technique lets you experience clearly what relaxation feels like. It ensures that you can immediately recognize tensions in your muscles during stressful situations during the day, so that you can relax them.

Breathing is important here for an extra-relaxing effect. Once your body relaxes, your mind will follow.

Woman lying relaxed on a blanket

How the exercise works: 

  1. Wear comfortable clothes, take off your shoes and sit or lie in a comfortable position.
  2. Breathe in and out deeply seven times. Take deep, slow breaths throughout the exercise.
  3. When you’re ready, turn your attention to your right foot. Move your awareness to that foot. Then tense the muscles of that foot as hard as you can and hold for ten seconds.
  4. Relax your foot completely. Become aware of all the tensions in that foot that are gently draining away. Your foot becomes loose and relaxed. Take a deep breath.
  5. Shift your attention to your ankle, lower leg, knee, upper leg, etc… and follow the same instructions as for your right foot.
  6. Slowly move your attention upwards throughout your body, tensing and relaxing all muscles.

Sequence of muscles: right foot, ankle, knee, thigh, left foot, ankle, knee, thigh, hips and buttocks, abdomen, chest, back, right hand, arm, left hand, arm, shoulders, neck, face and whole head.

4. Abdominal breathing/diaphragmatic breathing

Here in the West, there is a slim ideal of beauty. Women in particular often try to pull in their stomachs to look slimmer.

In this way we prevent breathing from the abdomen in a relaxed and smooth way and we start to breathe more shallowly, so that we become more sensitive to stress and receive less oxygen.

Many people do not know how breathing actually works. The air is drawn into your lungs in two ways:

  • Chest breathing: The muscles between your ribs contract, lifting the chest and drawing air into your lungs. The chest moves forward and up during this breath. This breathing takes more energy and the lungs fill less than with abdominal breathing.
  • Abdominal breathing or diaphragmatic breathing: Your diaphragm, the muscle plate that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity, moves downward, causing the chest cavity to expand. That way, air is drawn into your lungs. Your abdomen expands a bit as your organs are pushed forward. With this breathing you only tense the muscles during the exhalation, so that it requires less effort than the chest breathing.

How the exercise works: 

  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
  2. Place one hand loosely on your stomach, relax your abs and breathe in slowly through your nose. Your belly goes up and that way your lungs fill up to the bottom with air.
  3. Continue to inhale until your chest and finally your collarbone rise.
  4. Pause for a moment, then exhale slowly from the top of your lungs down.
  5. At the end of the exhale, gently contract your abs to force any remaining air out of your lungs.

5. Sama Vritti Breathing Exercise

Sama Vritti is a breathing technique that ensures that the inhalation lasts as long as the exhalation.

Mental counting is often used here to ensure that inhalation and exhalation are smooth.

Sama Vritti is very beneficial because it involves the parasympathetic nervous system, helping to get into a relaxed and calm state. Sama Vritti is said to cause balance and harmony in consciousness.

How?

Sama Vritti is very simple:

  1. Breathe IN through your nose for four counts
  2. Breathe out through your nose for four counts
  3. When you’re ready, you can start counting longer. eg. Count six in, count six out, or count eight in, count out.

Over time, yogis with more experience also insert an equally long pause between the in and out. This pause is called Kumbhaka.

6. Kapalabhati/breath of fire

Kapalabhati is also called breath of fire. This technique is more difficult and is therefore only recommended if you already have some experience with breathing techniques.

When you have mastered the ocean breath or Ujjayi breathing, you can carefully try the breath of fire.

In Sanskrit ‘ Kapala ‘ means skull, and ‘ Bhati ‘ means light or rays. This exercise is said to also have a cleansing effect on the body because the secretion mechanisms are stimulated.

Breath of fire means that the inhalation is automatic, and that the exhalation is caused by a sudden contraction of the abdominal muscles. Diaphragmatic breathing is therefore used, because the inhalation does not require any effort in itself.

Lighted match with smoke

Not only does this cleansing breath allow you to release stress and toxins from your body and mind, but it also allows you to say goodbye to negative emotions and lethargy and fill your body with energy.

Beginners should take a leisurely pace.

How the exercise works: 

  1. Sit in a comfortable position. This can be on a chair with both feet on the floor or in the lotus position on the floor. Rest your hands on your stomach.
  2. Take a deep breath through your nose and exhale through your mouth
  3. Take a deep breath in through your nose and raise your belly.
  4. In a quick and forceful motion, contract your abs so that your belly button is pulled toward your spine. Let the air out through your nose.
  5. Let your lungs fill with air. You don’t have to do anything for this. It happens on its own after pulling in your abdomen.

Repeat this cycle ten times. Then let your breathing return to normal and observe the sensation in your body.

You can repeat this ten breath cycle up to four times. It is a nice exercise to do in the morning because you can start the day so energetically.

IMPORTANT: DO NOT practice this breathing of fire technique if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, stomach problems, heart problems or abdominal pain. If you get dizzy or restless, stop taking it for a while.

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