Humans have known for a long time how vital breathing is to their existence and overall health. The Tao faith of China and Hinduism both emphasized a “vital principle” that flows through the body, a type of energy or internal breath, and both saw respiration as one of its manifestations as early as the first millennium B.C. The first school of thought to establish a theory of respiratory control was pranayama (“breath retention”) yoga, and German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz created “autogenic training” as a technique for relaxation in the 1920s. Every rest, calming, and meditation technique used today involves breathing, and studies into the fundamental physiology of breathing as well as the results of using breath-control techniques support the importance of paying attention to and controlling our inhalations and exhalations.
Technique to Practice
365 : The name given to a common technique recommended by therapists to counter accumulated stress: at least three times a day, breathe six times per minute (inhaling for five seconds and exhaling for five seconds each time) for five minutes. Repeat all 365 days of the year.
Commonly used breathing techniques to Relieving Stress
Stand Up Straight
Posture is important for breathing: hold yourself straight, without stiffness, shoulders back, sitting or standing. This body posture facilitates the free play of the diaphragm. Good posture enables your body to breathe properly on its own.
Follow Your Breath
Be aware of each inhalation and exhalation. Focus on the sensations you feel as air passes through your nose and throat or on the movements of your chest and belly. When you feel your thoughts drift (which is natural), redirect your attention to your breath.
Breathe “through your stomach” as much as possible: start by inflating your belly by inhaling, as if to fill it with air, then swell your chest; as you exhale, first “empty” your stomach, then your chest. This type of breathing is easier to observe and test while lying down, with one hand on your stomach.
Near the end of each inhalation, pause briefly while mentally counting “1, 2, 3” and holding the air before exhaling. This counting while not breathing can also be done after exhaling or between each inhalation or exhalation. It is often recommended for anxious patients to calm anxiety attacks because it induces a beneficial slowing of the breathing rate.
Breathe in and out slowly through one nostril, holding the other one closed using your finger; then reverse and continue by alternating regularly. There are many variations of this exercise—for example, inhaling through one nostril and exhaling through the other. Research suggests that what is most important, aside from slowing the breathing rhythm, is breathing through the nose, which is somewhat more soothing than breathing through your mouth.
Think Reassuring Thoughts While Breathing
With each breath, think soothing thoughts (“I am inhaling calm”). With each exhalation, imagine that you are expelling your fears and worries (“I am exhaling stress”).