Breathing Exercises to Combat Stress

Breathing is essential to life. It brings vital oxygen into our bodies. By simply stopping and taking a deep breath, we tend to slow down and relax just a bit. Stopping our harried lives and taking a sequence of deep breaths has a powerful relaxing effect on us that can combat the stressors in our lives.

On Dr. Andrew Weil’s website, he shares a great breathing exercise that he calls “The Relaxing Breath”. It is quite simple to do. Sit with your back straight and the tip of your tongue touching your gums right behind your upper front teeth. Keep it there through the duration of the exercise.

1.     Empty your lungs by exhaling completely.

2.     Close your mouth and inhale through your nose to the count of four.

3.     Hold your breath for seven counts.

4.     Exhale through your mouth to the count of eight. Empty your lungs completely.

5.     Repeat steps 2-4 three more times for a total count of four cycles.

While doing “The Relaxing Breath” you should always inhale quietly through your nose but loudly through your mouth. The 4:7:8-count ratio is the key to this exercise. It doesn’t matter how long you stay in each phase—just that you maintain that ratio. If you have trouble holding your breath in step three, speed up your count but make sure and keep that 4:7:8 ratio. With time, you will be able to hold your breath longer and your inhalations and exhalations will get deeper. This breathing exercise has subtle effects initially but they become more powerful over time.

For more breathing exercises, see Dr. Weil’s book, Spontaneous Healing.


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