Yoga Breathing Techniques for Stress

Yoga Breathing Techniques for Stress

Yoga, as defined by Oxford Dictionary, is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.* This article will focus on the breathing aspects of yoga, otherwise known as pranayama, specifically to alleviate stress. We will explore three different types of breathing exercises and see how they can potentially make a positive impact on your life.


1) Nadi Shodhana Breath-Also known as “alternate nostril breathing,” this technique claims to help relieve stress and anxiety, balancing the two hemispheres of the brain.*


How to Practice:

- Sit up straight.*

- Hold your right hand up to your face.*

- Close your right nostril with your right thumb.*

- Slowly inhale through the left nostril.*

- Pause for a few moments after the inhale.*

- Close the left nostril with your ring finger.*

- Release the breath slowly through the right nostril.*

-Inhale through the right nostril, pause a few moments.*

-Exhale through the left nostril.*

- Repeat for a few rounds.*


2) Sahita Kumbhaka Breath-Kumbhaka is the state of pause, or suspension, between the breaths, and helps us find stillness through focused mindfulness.*

How to Practice:

- Inhale slowly.*

- Pause and hold for a few moments at the top of the breath.*

- Exhale slowly.*

- Hold for a few moments at the bottom of the breath.*

- Repeat for five minutes, then return to a normal breath.*


3) Ujjayi Breath-Also known as the “ocean breath,” this intense pranayama practice is great for cooling down the body and calming the nervous system. Make sure to try this technique in an area where you feel comfortable breathing loudly.


How to Practice:

- Inhale and exhale through the nose, controlling the breath with the diaphragm. Try to keep a straight, even spine as you breathe.*

- Pull each breath firmly in and push it out through the back of the nasal passage.*

- Repeat for a few minutes, surrendering to relaxation. You’ll know you’ve got it right if your breath takes on an ocean waves sound – whooshing in and whooshing out rhythmically.*


Hopefully some, if not all of these breathing techniques can add more tranquility to your life and the more you’re able to practice them, the better you’ll feel. As always, please consult your healthcare provider when making any changes to your diet or exercise regimen.

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