Breathing, we do it all day and night and rarely give it any thought at all. However, this free and easy activity can have a significant impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. Learning some simple techniques to harness the intimate connection between breathing and the state of our mind and body can help to manage pain, depression and stress.
Here I have outlined my favourite breathing techniques. For more information on these I would recommend the work of Dr Rangan Chatterjee, a lifestyle medical doctor who has written widely on the subject in his book The Stress Solution and also on his podcast Feel Better Live More.
1 minute, 6 breaths
Take 1 minute to just concentrate on your breath and aim to fit 6 even breaths in that time – ie each breath should take approximately 10 seconds to complete. This one often works well in the morning to set a calm state at the beginning of the day.
Simply breath in for 3, hold for 4 and breath out for 5. Having an out breath which is longer than your in breath has been shown to reduce anxiety
This has been reportedly used by the Navy Seals to help focus their minds in stressful situations. It is often used just before bedtime. Breath in for 4, hold for 4, breath out for 4, hold for 4.
Yogic breathing, also called Nadi Shodhan
This is said to give a boost of energy. Cover your right nostril, breath in through your left nostril, swap to cover your left nostril and breath out through your right.
Taking small, simple steps towards a calmer life can produce disproportionately positive results for your health.