Regulate your breathing with stress breathing exercises. Feeling stressed? One simple way to take your body out of fight or flight mode is with yoga breathing otherwise known as uiijayi or snore breath. If you have never done this before then start simply.
Snore breath (Uiijayi)
To do this, form a gentle snore sound in the back of your throat. You are not going to actually snore, but instead make a soft, almost-snoring noise as you breathe. Continue your soft, snore breath while exhaling all the air out of your lungs slowly and mindfully. Then take a snore breath in, again slowly and deliberately, filling your lungs with fresh oxygen.
This type of breathing is useful for when you want to really ground yourself in your yoga practice and get the most benefit out of each pose. But even if you’re not doing yoga, snore breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, making it useful for when you need to calm down, offload tension, make ready for sleep or recover after a stressful encounter.
You may have heard of box breathing. This rhythmic breathing exercise works well for when you’re in a panic and starting to feel like you are hyperventilating from stress. This is where you inhale for four counts, pause for four counts, exhale for four counts and then repeat. Like all other forms of relaxation breathing, you’ll do best if you slow down and do your breath counts mindfully and calmly.
Breathing this way will help take your nervous system from parasympathetic to sympathetic function and reset everything internally. Best of all, you can do box breathing on the DL – no one has to know that you’re freaking out on the inside, and no one will notice your counting (just be sure to keep silent if you don’t want to attract attention or start having to field questions about why you’re breathing in this unusual manner.
Box breathing can serve as a handy coping tool to help you calm your body and return to the moment once again.
Breath of fire
Breath of fire is an energizing way to breathe that is also cleansing and will invigorate you if you happen to be feeling low. This does not seem to make much sense if you’re trying to calm down, does it. Even so, you can certainly release some energy if you’re feeling angry. Release the bad feelings before you settle yourself with some deep breathing. Start with breath of fire.
To do it, breathe a sudden, rapid inhale through the nostrils and then rapidly exhale from the throat as though you are expelling fire from the body. Let the exhale go all the way. If you feel like you’re done exhaling, exhale even more. Release your breath to the point that your tongue hangs out up your mouth and your abdominals contract. Then inhale again, rapidly, and do the fire breath again.
Repeat for several counts. Then shift into slow, mindful breathing to bring yourself to total calm and peaceful feelings.
If you’re feeling worked up, stressed, and overheated, you can do straw breathing to cool down. Straw breathing can be helpful for women in menopause or perimenopause, who may be feeling the effects of hormone shifts, and getting overheated.
To do this simple breathing exercise, purse your lips as though you have your mouth around a straw to take a drink from it. Suck in a long, easy breath and do it slowly. Notice how the air feels cool coming in. Continue to purse your lips as you expel air from your lungs.
Repeat straw breathing for several counts, as long as you like or until you feel settled and cooled down. Switch to ujjayi breathing and engage with whatever stretches or poses help you relax and center yourself.