RECOVERY: Take a breather to reduce your stress
Everyone could use another tool in the toolbox when it comes to handling stress. So the next time you’re feeling stress or anxiety, center yourself with one of these breathing techniques. Most people feel improvements in as little as four to six breath cycles.
1. Resonance breathing
True resonance breathing is inhaling for six seconds and exhaling for six seconds. But if this is too hard, try inhaling for four seconds and exhaling for six seconds, or five seconds for both. And work up to the six-second mark. The main thing is to simply focus on exhaling longer than your inhale.
2. “Bee breath” or bhramari from pranayama yoga
For this technique, find a comfortable position and close your eyes and mouth and relax your lips, jaw, and base of your tongue. Then take a slow, controlled breath through your nose. Exhale through your nose while making a humming sound.
You can even try humming higher or lower pitches to see how that changes the effect. You don’t have to worry about a specific cadence or count. Just focus on slowing your breath and extending your exhales longer than your inhales.
3. Box breathing
Just think of a box with four sides. Start with a slow inhale through your nose for four seconds. Hold your breath for four seconds. Exhale slowly through your nose or mouth for four seconds. Then hold your breath for four seconds before inhaling and starting the pattern over again.
4. 6 – 4 – 10 breath
Remember to pause and notice your breath before you start. Then inhale for six seconds, hold for four seconds, and exhale for 10 seconds. Work on making that exhale nice and long.
Disclaimer: If your breathing rate is 20 times per minute or higher, consult a physician. People who have low blood pressure or are on medication to lower it, people with diabetes, and pregnant women need to exercise caution with breathing exercises. Slow, deep breathing exercises are not recommended for people with very low blood pressure or for anyone prone to fainting.