Breathing Techniques to Create Calm

Breathing techniques are a key component of many practices like yoga, tai chi, meditation and mindfulness. The effectiveness of focused breathing to create calm in your life cannot be underestimated. If you find yourself in a state of panic or anxiety, or even in a bout of physical pain, try using breath to restore calm. Breathing exercises can induce the relaxation response – lowering heart rate and blood pressure, relieving muscle tension, and increasing the supply of oxygen to the brain. If you are unsure how to use breath to bring yourself into a calm state, then utilising one of the following breathing techniques may help.

Belly breathing

Belly breathing is easy to do and very relaxing. Try this basic exercise anytime you need to relax or relieve stress.

Lie down, and put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.

Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.

Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.

The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

Coming from an ancient yoga technique called pranayama, this is a great technique to use when trying to ease anxiety or at any other time when you are struggling to get your breath under control. Here’s how to do it: sit comfortably and then exhale completely through your mouth. Then close your mouth and breathe in through your nose for four seconds. Hold it for seven seconds and then exhale out of your mouth for eight seconds. Complete this cycle as many times as you like.

Combat Breaths

Following a similar pattern to the 4-7-8 technique, combat breaths are a breathing technique employed by high ranking soldiers before they are about to enter a stressful situation. It calms adrenaline and helps the body and mind operate with intention and focus. The cycle starts by inhaling through the nose for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, exhale for four seconds and wait four seconds before the next cycle. You can complete this cycle for as many breaths as necessary.

Teddy Bear Breathing for kids

Ask your child to choose their favourite small soft toy. Get them to lie on their back, with one hand on their chest and with the toy placed over their belly button. Encourage them to relax their whole body, and then breathe slowly through the nose. The challenge is to see the toy rise slowly as their belly expands, while their chest stays still. When your child has taken a full deep breath, ask them to hold it, count to three then slowly breathe out. Repeat a few times until your child is relaxed.

Other techniques
There are many other breathing techniques you can explore, such as alternate nostril breathing and pursed lip breathing – use a google search to find out more. Many guided meditations also include elements of focused breathing.

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