3 Breathing Techniques for Managing Stress and Chronic Pain

Here are three breathing techniques for managing your stress and chronic pain.

Long Deep Breathing – Box Breathing

Sit up straight.

Begin with a complete exhalation, pushing in and up with your abdominal muscles to help release the last bit of used air.

  • Inhale to a count of 4: As you begin your inhale, expand your abdomen, allowing you to fill the base of your lungs, and expand your whole chest cavity as you continue to fill the lungs with air. As you come in to you count of “4”, take just a little more air in at the end imagining you are taking in air all the way up into the area of your collarbones.
  • Hold the breath for a count of 4.
  • Let the breath out to a count of 4: As you exhale, gently begin up at the collarbone area, deflating the chest all the way down into the abdomen, pulling in your belly at the end to push out the last of the air.
  • Hold the breath out for a count of 4.
  • Return to 1) and repeat the cycle from 1-4 for 3 to 11 minutes.

Left Nostril Breathing for Calm and Ease

Block off the right nostril with your thumb or finger and breathe in through your left nostril only. Exhale through the right nostril. Use slow, even, deep breaths in and out, inhaling fully before exhaling and exhaling fully before inhaling again.

Repeat for 3 to 11 minutes.


Alternate Nostril Breathing to Balance the Brain

This meditation will calm you, center you, and energize you in a grounded way. It balances the brain and helps to clear your sinuses.

Open your right hand and make a “U” shape out of your thumb and forefinger your thumb.

Block the right nostril with your thumb and inhale through your left nostril.

Hold the inhale briefly.

Block the left nostril with your forefinger and release your thumb from your right nostril.

Exhale through the right nostril, and as you continue to block the left nostril, inhale through the right nostril.

Hold the inhale briefly.

Block the right nostril once more and exhale through the left nostril.

Continue for 3 to 5 minutes.

The science behind alternate nostril breathing

You may not realize the importance of your nostrils in your body. Their power lies in the energy anatomy connected to your left and right nostril.

The left nostril is linked to the right hemisphere of the brain. Breathing through this nostril brings the abilities for calming, cooling, sensitivity, empathy, and receptivity.

The right nostril is linked to the left hemisphere of the brain. Breathing through this nostril brings warmth, alertness, higher energy, will power, and concentration abilities.

For example, if throughout the day, you find that you are primarily using your right nostril, it may indicate that you are in a high state of alert or high stress. If on the other hand, you find yourself a primary left nostril breather, there may be some signs of being overly sensitive, and calm to the point of mild depression.

The key with wellness in the body is balance and alternate nostril breathing helps to balance the left and right sides of our brains and bodies. Preliminary studies show that alternate nostril breathing decreases blood pressure, increases skin conductance, an indication of sympathetic activity, and affects the heart rate.

The benefits of alternate nostril breathing:

–  Increases whole brain fitness and function by balancing the left and right hemispheres of the brain

– Generates a deep sense of physical, mental and emotional well-being.

– Has been found to ease headaches and migraines.

If you want particular help in one area, for instance if you are finding yourself right nostril dominant and your life is too stressful, then you can close off the right nostril and breath slowly in and out of the left for a few minutes.

Tools for Better Living Breathing Techniques






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