4 Best Breathing Exercises To Beat Stress And Develop Mindfulness

Discover the 4 best breathing exercises to beat stress and develop mindfulness. Learn how you can manifest intent and grow gratitude through Mindfulness and Ayurvedic breath.

You have probably heard that utilizing certain styles of breathing can help us combat stress.

But they become even more powerful when we combine them as part of a personal improvement plan. The difference is easy to make, it’s simply holding a mindset that you will manifest intent.

The following are 4 of the best breathing exercises to release stress and rid yourself of nervous tension. Importantly they also help enable our state of conscious mindfulness. This mindset is more conducive to us making lasting change.

To implement this change in the modern world we need to look to some techniques from the ancient world, and more specifically the Indian Continents practice of Ayurveda.

The 4 Best Breathing Exercises To Beat Stress and Develop Mindfulness.

We start with Sama Vritti, which is inhaling and exhaling equally.  This helps calm the mind.

Then Nadi Shodhana which is slow, deep and rhythmic breathing through alternate nostrils.

So Hum Meditation which is using a mantra to develop a tidal rhythm of breath.

Anuloma Viloma, is for after you have mastered the others and focuses in 3 areas. Proper inhalation, retention and proper exhalation..

How To Develop Mindfulness and Beat Stress

Advantages of the best breathing exercises and controlled breathing

  1. Curbs our levels of stress;
  2. Lowers our blood pressure;
  3. Increases our focus and concentration;
  4. Enables our mind and body to function in unison;
  5. Promotes feelings of calmness and relaxation;
  6. Enables us to become more mindful;
  7. Helps us to enter a manifesting mindset

The Traditional Indian Medicinal View Of Breathing.

The ancient texts of Ayuryoga and Ayurveda have, for centuries, promoted these methods of breathing meditation as extremely effective ways to combat stress. And they remain an excellent strategy and work wonderfully well as aids for our modern lifestyle.

Ayurveda experts encourage the use of breath as a means of increasing awareness and to develop mindfulness. It is also the key to attaining Zen.

The Yogis believe that by utilizing these simple breathing exercises we are able to live a more joyful, more fulfilling and more holistically healthy life.

The best aspect for us, is that you are able to perform all of them from your living room, bed room and even your office desk. They can be done anywhere. This is especially useful for those moments that we find ourselves feeling stressed, anxious or we slip into negative thought patterns.

Once learnt, you can use the 4 best breathing exercises to help center yourself and bring yourself back to a place of peace and calm, almost instantly.

Correct breathing techniques sound easy, right? And they are. Remember that it may take time before they feel comfortable and normal. With regular, unhurried practice you will master these techniques and be astounded at the results you achieve.

Beat Stress and Develop Mindfulness With These 4 Best Breathing Exercises
Beat Stress and Develop Mindfulness With These 4 Best Breathing Exercises

1. Sama Vritti (Equal Breathing or Box Breathing Technique)

Sama1Sama is the quality of calmness and tranquility of the mind, which is highly valued in yogic philosophy. To find sama, the mind must be under control. It is an experience of inner peace and equanimity. means equal calmness. Vritti2Vritti refers to the thoughts that surface in the mind, often described as a whirlpool. means the state of thoughts.

As we grow older our attention becomes focused on providing for family, on our career or just the day to day concerns that make up a modern lifestyle, we have likely paid little attention to the way we breath. Almost certainly the vast majority of us will be in the practice of shallow breathing.

Our goal when beginning to use Sama Vritti 3Sama Vritti Pranayama translates as “equal mental fluctuation breathing”. Samavritti pranayama is a ratio breathing technique that uses a set length of equal inhalations, exhalations and breath retentions. is to counter some poor breathing habits and replace them with methods that are more conducive to oxygenation and promote stable, even, deep breathing.

The simple focus of equalized breathing has many benefits. This includes greater oxygenation and is what enables calming of the nervous system, increased focus, and reduced stress and anxiety levels.

Method

Sama Vritti is great for beginners and for those who need to learn how to relax. It is commonly known as box breathing or equal breathing because it is performed using an equalized count and rhythm of breath.

This is a great way to start the day or rejuvenate your day when required. We practice Sama Vritti not only to deepen our breathing, but to stabilize our senses, increase inner awareness, develop a sense of calm and energize the body.

  1. To start Sama Vritti, inhale through the nose, keeping an even steady pace, for the count of 4.
  2. Then hold the breath, for the same steady even count of 4.
  3. Exhale, making sure you release your breath in the same steady and even count of 4.
  4. Hold after exhalation for another even count of 4 before inhaling.
  5. This is one cycle. Inhale, Hold, Exhale, Hold.
  6. You should repeat the cycle 6-8 times.
  7. As you advance, you can aim to increase the cycle length (inhale, hold, exhale, hold) for example, increasing to a count of 6 and then even up to a count of 8.
  8. Don’t rush this and only progress once you have mastered the current cycle count of 4.

Remember to breathe through your nose. This adds a natural resistance to the breath and is a basis of pranayama breathing. This develops your diaphragmatic breath. Meaning your belly rises and falls with little or no movement in your chest area.

YogaBasics

Sama vritti can be done anytime and in any place. As one of our 4 best breathing exercises it is especially effective in the moments we catch ourselves creating limiting thoughts.

It is also wonderful if you are someone who has a hard time falling asleep.

This breathing style helps to slow the mind and reduce any racing thoughts.

Equally if during the day you find your mind is wandering, the Sama Vritti also helps bring us back to a state of focus and concentration where we can again be truly present and focus on the situation at hand.

4 Best Breathing Exercises To Beat Stress And Develop Mindfulness.
4 Best Breathing Exercises To Beat Stress And Develop Mindfulness.

2. Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

The next breathing exercise is Nadi Shodhana 4Nadi is a Sanskrit word meaning “channel” or “flow” and shodhana means “purification.” Therefore, nadi shodhana is primarily aimed at clearing and purifying the subtle channels of the mind-body organism, while bringing balance to the system as a whole. used to balance and unite the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Also known as alternate nostril or more commonly, the silent breath technique.

We use Nadi Shodhana to oxygenate the body, to clear and release toxins, reduce stress and anxiousness and rejuvenate the nervous system.

It also helps to balance hormones, clear and balance respiratory channels and alleviate respiratory irritants.

Method

  1. Ensure you start by making sure you are in a comfortable seated pose.
  2. The place your right thumb over the right nostril, gently blocking the airway.
  3. Inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril allowing your breath to go deep into your belly. Visualize and feel as the breath travels in through the nostril and along the left side of the body. Pause briefly once the breath reaches the crown of the head.
  4. Now close the left nostril while simultaneously releasing the right nostril.
  5. Exhale gently, but fully, through the right nostril. Sense your breath releasing from the right side of your body. Pause at the end of exhalation.
  6. Maintain a closed left nostril, inhale through the right nostril, allowing the breath to travel from the right nostril, up the right side of the body and pause at the crown.
  7. Now gently close the right nostril while simultaneously releasing the left nostril.
  8. Exhale gently, but fully, through the left nostril. Sense your breath releasing along the left side of your body. Pause at the end of exhalation.
  9. Continue this pattern – inhale left, exhale right, inhale right, exhale left.
  10. Repeat this pattern while you focus on the pathway of your breath. Visualize and sense the flow of breath originating from your pelvic floor traveling to the crown of the head on side of the nostril used. Then back down the exhalation nostril side of the body, from the crown of the head to your pelvic floor.
  11. Ensure throughout to keep your breath slow, gentle, fluid, and consistent throughout each cycle and full cycle set.
  12. Aim to continue the Nadi Shodhana cycle for 5 – 10 minutes.

The pace and flow of breath is the key to achieving great results. Concentrate on maintaining the breath cycle in a fluid cycle. As you do this focus on sensing the air flow as you up to the crown as you inhale and down to the pelvic floor as you exhale.

Chopra 5https://chopra.com/articles/nadi-shodhana-how-to-practice-alternate-nostril-breathing

Nadi Shodhana works best during those “crunch times” or when we find it challenging to find our focus or regain energy. This is an excellent “pick me up” prior to those mid-afternoon meetings.

Nadi Shodhana is excellent for clearing and balancing the channels and meridians within our body. It also helps make us feel relaxed and gain a more peaceful mindset.

4 Best Breathing Exercises To Beat Stress And Develop Mindfulness.
4 Best Breathing Exercises To Beat Stress And Develop Mindfulness.

3. So hum Meditation (Best Breathing Exercises – The Ocean Wave)

The So Hum meditation is a simple technique that uses the breath and the repetition of a mantra to help quiet the mind and relax the body. It is excellent for quietening the mind enabling you to be truly present and aware.

Everyone can enjoy this breathing exercise. It is also often referred to as Ocean Wave Breathing due to a visualization exercise that can be used.

The visualization is sometimes easier to learn when imagining the breath cycle as an ocean wave that rolls up upon the sand and onto the shore before it stops and quietly retracts.

Method

  1. Start with one hand placed upon the chest and the other on the belly.
  2. Bring your attention to your breath. With your inhalation and exhalation you are aiming to develop a “tidal rhythm” of your breath. Feel the rise and fall of your inhalation and exhalation.
  3. As your focus settles and your inhalation and exhalation has formed a gentle and consistent tidal rhythm, begin using the mantra “So Hum.”
  4. As you inhale, quietly repeat the word “so” to yourself and as you exhale, repeat the word “hum.” Keep focusing on the rhythm of your breath using the “So Hum” mantra to establish the flow.
  5. Repeat the gentle ocean wave and mantra for just a few minutes when you first start.
  6. Over time build the practice up to half an hour. Most important is that you breathe easy and effortlessly, without having to concentrate.

The yogic mantra “So Hum” is not only a reflection of the sound of the breath but also carries a contemplative meaning: “I am that” (so = “I am” and hum = “that”).

Yoga Journal 6https://www.yogajournal.com/meditation/meditation-classes/so-hum-contemplation-meditation/

This breathing technique is also very helpful for entering a manifesting mindset.

Great to use before taking tests, interviews, or other stressful events. While it may seem difficult to begin, if you persevere and train your body and mind you’ll be amazed at the levels of control you can attain.

4 Best Breathing Exercises To Beat Stress And Develop Mindfulness
4 Best Breathing Exercises To Beat Stress And Develop Mindfulness

4. Anuloma Viloma 7(Intermediate Level Of Nadi Shodhana)

This breath technique is very similar to the alternate nostril breathing.

One of the major benefits of Anuloma Viloma is that it purifies the nadis and promotes the flow of prana. This oxygenation of the body provides us an abundance of life force, and therefore greater vitality, endurance, stamina and strength.

Using this technique we maintain our breath in slow and steady intervals which helps our serenity, increases creativity and equalizes our energy flow. The nadis within the astral body remain unimpeded and clear.

Another benefit is by alternating between the right and left nostrils restores equilibrium between the hemispheres of the brain. This results in harmonized yin and yang energies and balances the Ayurvedic doshas.

Method

You use only the right hand for this exercise. The thumb is used to close and release your right nostril and your ring or pinky fingers are used to close and release your left nostril.

As this is a more advanced technique and requires a seamless ratio flow of breath take some time to relax and find a meditative mindset before starting.

vishnu mudra
  1. Close your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril for a count of 4.
  2. Close both nostrils and hold your breath for a count of 16.
  3. Release your right nostril and exhale fully through it for a count of 8.
  4. Maintain this position, left nostril closed, inhaling through your right for a count of 4.
  5. Close both nostrils and hold your breath for a count of 16.
  6. Release your left nostril and exhale fully through it to a count of 8.

This is a fast-paced nadi shodhana. Of importance is that your breath is a timed flow with a ratio 2:8:4 and repeated for at least 10 full cycles.

Anulom Vilom should be done on an empty stomach, preferably 4 hours after you’ve eaten. You should also find a cool, comfortable environment.

Healthline 8https://www.healthline.com/health/anulom-vilom-pranayama
4 Best Breathing Exercises To Beat Stress And Develop Mindfulness

References

  • 1
    Sama is the quality of calmness and tranquility of the mind, which is highly valued in yogic philosophy. To find sama, the mind must be under control. It is an experience of inner peace and equanimity.
  • 2
    Vritti refers to the thoughts that surface in the mind, often described as a whirlpool.
  • 3
    Sama Vritti Pranayama translates as “equal mental fluctuation breathing”. Samavritti pranayama is a ratio breathing technique that uses a set length of equal inhalations, exhalations and breath retentions.
  • 4
    Nadi is a Sanskrit word meaning “channel” or “flow” and shodhana means “purification.” Therefore, nadi shodhana is primarily aimed at clearing and purifying the subtle channels of the mind-body organism, while bringing balance to the system as a whole. used to balance and unite the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
  • 5
    https://chopra.com/articles/nadi-shodhana-how-to-practice-alternate-nostril-breathing
  • 6
    https://www.yogajournal.com/meditation/meditation-classes/so-hum-contemplation-meditation/
  • 7
    (Intermediate Level Of Nadi Shodhana)
  • 8
    https://www.healthline.com/health/anulom-vilom-pranayama

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