Three Breathing Techniques That Will Calm the Mind And Settle Emotions
These three relaxation techniques can help calm the mind, settle emotions and clarify thoughts. All three can be easily practiced alone at home, in the office, in the car or on public transport. All it takes is a little practice, and you'll soon start feeling the benefits.
Release tension with reverse breathing
As its name suggests, reverse breathing involves contracting the abdomen inwards during inhalation rather than puffing out the stomach as when practicing deep, abdominal breathing. Relaxation specialist and author Estelle Pouchelon, recommends practicing this breathing technique in a sitting or lying position to release tension around the diaphragm while also working the abdominal muscles. The aim is to breathe in as much as possible while pulling in your stomach under your ribs. Then, breathe out through the mouth while contracting the abdominal muscles. Each series can be repeated five to 10 times.
Manage emotions with cardiac coherence
The biofeedback from cardiac coherence helps regulate the heart rate, creating a coherent heart rate variability through regular breathing. The technique involves breathing in while counting to five then breathing out while counting to five. A series of six cycles therefore makes up one minute of exercise. It's recommended to keep going for five minutes in total. A host of cardiac coherence apps and online videos can be used to help time breathing along with air bubbles, water drops or pleasant landscapes.
Find calm with alternate nostril breathing
Often practiced in yoga, alternate nostril breathing can be carried out sitting on a chair, on the ground or on a zafu cushion (a yoga and meditation cushion). The technique seeks to calm the mind and body while also promoting sleep. It involves breathing through just one nostril at a time, alternating between the left and the right. For best results, make sure your nose is properly clear beforehand. The practice does require a small amount of training, as you can experiment with breathing in, holding the breath and breathing out for different lengths of time. Start by blocking your right nostril with your thumb and breathing in through your left nostril for four seconds, holding your breath for 16 seconds and then breathing out for eight seconds, recommends pranayama teacher François Gautier. Then repeat with the left nostril blocked.