Yoga Breathing Techniques for Relaxation
When it has been a busy, challenging time it can be hard to calm a buzzing mind and sleep as soundly as the whippet. There are so many physical and mental benefits of yoga and it is a hugely positive activity to include in your regular exercise routine. Perhaps you enjoy taking a yoga retreat or a regular class? At times when I am seeking techniques to help manage anxiety, I find yoga breathing techniques really helpful to slow thoughts and promote relaxation and sleep. Here are my favourites which have acquired through various yoga and mindfulness classes:
For all of these breathing exercises try to be in a comfortable sitting or laying position, wearing comfortable clothing and with minimal distraction.
Yoga Breathing techniques:
- Lay or sit in a comfortable, quiet position
- As you breathe in say “27 in” in your head.
- As you breathe out say “27 out” in your head.
- Continue this (26 in, 26 out,25in, 25 out and so on) until you reach 0.
- Aim to calm and lengthen the breathe, particularly as you exhale.
- If thoughts pop into your head, allow them to pass and return to your counting.
Alternate Nostril Breathing:
- With either the left or right hand place the index and middle finger between the eyes, with the thumb on one nostril and the ring finger on the other.
- Keeping the left nostril closed, inhale deeply through your right nostril.
- Seal your right nostril, then release your left nostril. Exhale slowly out of your left nostril.
- With your right nostril closed, now inhale deeply in through your left nostril.
- Seal your left nostril, release your right nostril and exhale through your right nostril.
- You should now be in the original position. Continue the cycle until you have completed ten complete full rounds. This can of course be lengthened or shortened depending on your time allowance.
Abdominal Breathing :
- Place your hands gently just below your ribs.
- With closed eyes, breathe in slowly through your nose until you feel your diaphragm rise.
- Gently, hold the breath for the count of 2.
- Exhale slowly, feeling your diaphragm lower.
The mind can be focused further through using counting during the breath. For example inhaling for 5, and exhaling for 7, or in for 7 and out for 9 (the exhalation should be longer than the inhalation).
The Body Scan:
Laying down comfortable on your back, move through the body to tense and release tension:
- As you inhale, tense the feet, then release and exhale- as you release say in your mind ‘my feet are relaxed’.
- Move up your body to the legs and hips, inhale and tense the legs and hips then exhale and release- as you exhale/ release say in your mind ‘my legs and hips are relaxed’.
- Now your stomach, inhale and tense the stomach then exhale and release- as you exhale/ release say in your mind ‘my stomach is relaxed’.
- Next repeat with the chest
- Then the arms.
- Finally, inhale and tense the face then exhale and release- as you exhale/ release say in your mind ‘my face is relaxed’.
- Lay quietly for a few minutes afterwards in relaxation.
How to get the most from yoga breathing techniques:
Like any exercises, yoga breathing techniques are more powerful and beneficial when practised often. A calm mind is hard to achieve sometimes and on some days it is easier to focus than others. If work find it difficult to leave work at work, this feature is full of top tips. Be kind to yourself and allow any pesky thoughts to pass without judgement and don’t give up!
More wellbeing ideas here.