Yoga Breathing Exercises For Soothing Stress

Learn how simple yoga breathing exercises can calm you instantly! Rediscover how to breathe right to gain vitality and other health benefits.

“When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.” -Unknown

In my yoga class, the breathing techniques are known as Pranayama. In Sanskrit, it means to control and expand our breath. Prana also means cosmic wind, vital force and it’s the essence of life and soul. Conscious breathing allows regulation of the prana in the human body, particularly in our energy centers called chakras.

Respiration involves every cell of our body!

There’s an old saying from India stating that longevity is measured in breaths taken…

Studies from Harvard Heart Letter (2002) and Circulation (2002) have shown that deep diaphragm yoga breathing exercises with a slow respiratory rate of 6 breaths per minute (10 seconds per breath) can have beneficial effects. For both patients with chronic heart conditions and healthy individuals.

Find out more on our step by step guide Pregnancy Yoga Resource. Click here to download it.

Yoga Breathing Exercises Benefits

Here is a list of principal health benefits related to a regular practice of deep yoga breathing:

  • Increases the body’s vital energy.
  • Opens your chest and stimulates your intercostal muscles.
  • Increases the gastric fire and improves digestion and elimination.
  • Relieves asthma and other curative benefits relating to the respiratory system.
  • Alleviates cardiac disorders.
  • Normalizes blood pressure.
  • Invigorates the nervous system.
  • Calm and eliminate stress.
  • Calm dizziness with a supply of oxygen and nitrogen to brain cells.
  • Purifies the circulatory system.
  • Stimulates the pituitary gland, regulator of all your hormone’s body.
  • Makes you happy!

The vast majority of people use less then 10% of their lung capacity. Most people breathe rapidly and superficially, from 15 to 20 breaths a minute! We need to slow down a bit! What about a yoga breathing session and some yoga relaxation?

Yoga For Stress Relief

The physiological action of yoga manifests itself mainly through breathing AND breath awareness. Many people are disconnected from their natural breathing. Awareness of your own breathing can help you connect your emotions (and thoughts) to your physical sensations.

With simple yoga breathing exercises, you will achieve emotional balance. Deep yoga breathing will calm your nervous system. It will calm your mind and allow a better self confidence.

On this page, you will find a couple of breathing techniques that you can try, one at a time, in the following order.

When you practice one of these yoga breathing techniques, you can choose one and hold on to it for a couple of days or weeks. When you feel to explore a little more, you can adopt another one…for a couple of days or weeks!

There is no rule on how to breathe right during labor and delivery. But, it is very useful to know variousbreathing techniquesso that you can choose the one that suits you best. Each stage of childbirth might demand a different way of breathing.

Find out more on our step by step guide Pregnancy Yoga Resource. Click here to download it.

Ready to experiment?

Awareness of Breath

  • Lay down your yoga mat on a firm and flat surface. I highly recommend a PVC and Phthalate free (linked to endocrine disruption) yoga mat because it’s safer for your health.
  • Choose a sitting posture that suits you. You can sit on a chair as well. You can lay down on a folded blanket with support for a full yoga relaxation.
  • Inhale through your nose. Did you know that breathing through your mouth is a sign of distress? When we inhale, our belly should be pushed out naturally without forcing it. Like young children do. Your diaphragm moves down to make room for your lungs filled with oxygen.
  • Exhale through your nose while pushing your belly inward. This has the effect of pushing your viscera against your diaphragm muscle. It will compress your lungs, thus facilitating your exhalation.
  • Now that you are becoming aware of your breathing, you can insist on your exhalation to release tensions and stress.
  • Inhale on a count of 3.
  • Exhale on a count of 6.
  • Practice for 5 minutes.
  • End this yoga breathing with an exhalation.

Ujjayi Pranayama

In Sanskrit, Ujjayi means victorious. We also call this basic yoga breathing the Conqueror’s Breathing. With this breathing techniques, you control the flow of air (and thus lengthen your breath) with a glottic breathing. With a slight constriction of your throat, it will cause a snoring sound (subtle) wich is characteristic of this technique.

To locate your epiglottis flap, you can scratch your throat and you will observe where the vibration is occurring. On each inhalation and exhalation, you will feel the air as if you were breathing through your throat. You can practice Ujjayi alone for 5 minutes or add it to any yoga breathing exercises.

Breathe Right!

Now that we become aware of our breath, we are going to focus on our lungs. A basic yoga breathing consists on being aware of the magnitude of our lungs. These yoga breathing exercises can be done lying down or sitting.

If you are pregnant, you might want to adopt a sitting posture during your second and last trimester in order to be more comfortable.

Abdominal Breathing

  • Lay down on your back on your yoga mat. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Place your hands on your stomach and put your attention on your lower abdomen.
  • Inhale through your nose and let fill your belly with air.
  • Exhale through your nose and let your belly go back deep inside.
  • Practice for 5 minutes to sooth and refocus.

Thoracic Breathing

  • Place your hands on your ribs.
  • Inhale through your nose and feel your rib cage opening up. Feel the space between your blades. Your respiratory capacity is amplified.
  • Exhale through your nose and let your rib cage go back to normal.
  • Practice for 5 minutes to energize and stimulate your body.

Collarbone Breathing

  • Inhale through your nose and concentrate your breathing on the upper section of your lungs.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed.
  • Exhale through your nose.
  • Practice for 5 minutes.

Complete Yogic Breathing

This yoga breathing combines the abdominal, the thoracic and the collarbone breathings. You can imagine a wave that rises when you inhale and descends when you exhale.

  • Inhale one third with your belly.
  • Inhale one third with your rib cage.
  • When your rib cage is wide open, inhale a little more (yes you can!) and let your lungs fills completely (the last third).
  • Exhale slowly and normally.
  • Practice for 5 minutes and enjoy this yoga for stress relief.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

This alternate nostril breathing means purification of the channels in Sanskrit. It dissipates nervous fatigue, improves blood circulation, increases concentration and intellectual skills. This traditional form of breathing is a panacea!
  • Choose a sitting posture that suits you.
  • Use your right hand (if you are a right-handed) to control your nostrils.
  • Close off your right nostril with your thumb. Your index and middle fingers are placed between your eyebrows. Your ring finger is placed on your left nostril. You don’t use your baby finger.
  • While closing your right nostril with your thumb, inhale through the left.
  • Then, close off your left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through the right.
  • Inhale immediately through the right and close off your right nostril with your thumb.
  • While releasing your ring finger from your left nostril, exhale slowly.
  • This is one cycle. Continue this pattern for 10 cycles.

Brahmari Pranayama

In Sanskrit, Brahmari means bee. A bee! You will understand why…

This yoga breathing exercises relieves stress and is deeply relaxing. Do not practice if you have an ear infection.

  • Choose a sitting posture that suits you (do not practice laying down).
  • With your index fingers, close the little flap of your ears. Do not enter your finger in the ear.
  • Keep your elbows up to shoulders level and close your eyes.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose. You can practice the complete yogic breathing.
  • Exhale through your nose while creating a humming sound (like a bee!), until your lungs are empty. This create a nice internal massage.
  • Inhale again through your nose and repeat the pattern of this yoga breathing exercises for 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy this yoga for stress relief!

Remember that more you breathe slowly and deeply, more your life expands!

Master your breath rhythm, focus on one breath at the time and be in the now!

Find out more on our step by step guide Pregnancy Yoga Resource. Click here to download it.