3 Breathing Exercises to Help you Relax

When faced with attacks of stress, anger and anxiety, breathing can be our best ally to control ourselves.
3 Breathing Exercises to Help you Relax

Last update: 08 February, 2024

Stress is one of the biggest problems of modern-day life. A lot of us feel sped up, worn out, and overwhelmed by everything. That’s why it’s more important now than ever to learn breathing exercises to help you relax.

People have been making the connection between breathing and relaxation for thousands of years. According to the experts, people in the Western world don’t breathe properly.

 That leads to all kinds of problems for us, for both our emotional and our physical health. In this article we’re going to show you the best breathing exercises to help you relax. You’ll be able to start doing them yourself today.

A woman doing breathing exercises.

Can everyone use breathing exercises?

Some people think that you have to learn some kind of discipline like yoga or meditation to be able to use breathing as a relaxation method. But nothing could be farther from the truth. With proper training, anyone can enjoy the relation benefits of breathing. 

The only thing you need to do is make some time every day to practice the breathing exercises that we’re going to look at. For the most part, taking five minutes every day to do the exercise of your choice will be more than enough to start to see the benefits.

The three best breathing exercises

In this article you’re going to learn three breathing exercises. Each one of them has been proven to work, and they’re used all over the world by thousands of people. Here they are:

  • Alternate nostril breathing.
  • Three stage breathing.
  • Counting breaths.

Things to consider before you start

To get the most benefit out of these three exercises, you need to do them the right way. So here’s how:

  • Get in a comfortable position. This could be laying on your back or sitting up straight.
  • Wear loose clothing that doesn’t restrict any part of you and lets you move your body freely.
  • Do the exercises somewhere where no one will bother you. Somewhere free of noise and distractions.
  • Try to fill up your diaphragm when you breathe in instead of lifting your shoulders. This is what’s known as deep breathing.

Exercise 1: Alternate nostril breathing

The first breathing exercise to help you relax that we’re going to look at is the only one where the air goes in and out of your nose, without ever using your mouth. The basic idea with this one is to inhale through one nostril and exhale through the other. You change the order with each breath.

To do it, you just have to follow these simple steps:

  • Once you’re in a comfortable position and a distraction-free place, bring your dominant hand to your nose. Use it to pinch your nostrils, specifically with your index finger and thumb.
  • Cover your right nostril with one of your fingers and inhale through the left one. Take a long, deep breath. Then cover your left nostril and uncover your right, and let all the air go out through that one.
  • With the next breath, start by inhaling through your right nostril and then exhaling through your left. Alternate which nostrils you’re breathing through for five minutes.

Exercise 2: Three stage breathing

The second exercise involves three different phases for your breathing: inhalation, holding in the air, and exhalation. Splitting it up like this helps you get more control over your breathing. It can also help you breathe in the air much more deeply.

The key to doing this exercise properly is to do each stage proportionally to the other ones. So if you inhale for two seconds, you should hold it in for four, and exhale for six. 

A woman at peace.

Exercise 3: Counting breaths

The last breathing exercise involves some mindfulness. This is a technique that can help you be more present, both when you’re doing it and in your daily life.

Here’s the idea: once you’re ready to begin with the exercise, start to inhale and exhale in a slow, controlled way. But every time you breathe in, add one to a mental counter. Your goal is to get to one hundred inhalations in a row without getting distracted.

It might seem easy on paper, but it’s actually not easy. Still, even if you don’t get close to the hundred inhalations, doing this exercise will help you relax and feel more present.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.