Two people holding their noses during a breathing exercise.

4 Breathwork Training Exercises to Ease Stress and Anxiety

Breathwork Training

If you have heard of Wim Hof or if you are into health and wellness, you may have heard that breathwork training is powerful. In fact, you can even quell anxiety and stress all by controlling your breath. It almost sounds too simple to be true. So, let’s dive into this topic a bit further.

What is Breathwork?

Breathwork involves any breathing exercises where you intentionally control the pattern of your breathing. All in all, this includes a variety of different techniques.

It boasts many benefits, including:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Development of self-awareness.
  • Enhanced happiness.
  • Improved relationships.
  • Increased confidence.
  • Enhanced creativity.

Controlling your breathing actually activates your rest-and-digest nervous system, also known as the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps your body and mind relax, decreasing the stress hormones and reducing feelings of anxiety. In fact, many therapists and doctors recommend breathing techniques to those who struggle with anxiety and chronic stress.

Types of Breathwork Training (And How to Do Them)

Breathwork training comes in a variety of methods. Ultimately, you can choose whichever type of breathwork feels right for you. There are no hard rules here. You can even practice breathwork by counting to five on your inhale, pausing for two, then counting to five again on your exhale. It can really be as simple as that. If you want more, check out other types of breathwork below.

1. 4-7-8 Breathing

This type of breathwork is beneficial for those with anxiety. Some people even claim that the 4-7-8 breathing technique helps them ease into sleep. So, how do you do it?

  • Step 1: Sit tall in a comfortable position with your chest open.
  • Step 2: Inhale through the nose for a count of four.
  • Step 3: Pause for the count of seven.
  • Step 4: Exhale for a count of eight through the mouth, making a whoosh sound at the end of your breath.
  • Step 5: Repeat at least five times.

2. Box Breathing

Box breathing, also known as square breathing, is another great technique to calm anxiety and stress and help you relax. It can also help improve focus and concentration and be used as part of therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Here’s how to do it:

  • Step 1: Exhale through your mouth, letting all the oxygen out.
  • Step 2: Slowly inhale through your nose while counting to four. For each second, imagine one side of a square.
  • Step 3: Hold your breath for four seconds, again imagining that square with each side representing one second.
  • Step 4: Exhale for a count of four, imagining the square again.
  • Step 5: Repeat for at least three rounds or until you feel better.

3. Alternate Nostril Breathing

This breathwork technique might feel strange at first. Here’s how to do it:

  • Step 1: Sit in a comfortable position and exhale completely.
  • Step 2: Use your right thumb to close your right nostril.
  • Step 3: Inhale through your left nostril.
  • Step 4: Use your index and middle finger of your right hand to close your left nostril.
  • Step 5: Exhale through your right nostril.
  • Step 6: Inhale through your right nostril.
  • Step 7: Use your right thumb to close your right nostril.
  • Step 8: Exhale through your left nostril.
  • *Step 9: Continue for at least five minutes.

4. Diaphragmic Breathing

Diaphragmic breathing, also known as belly breathing, includes the intentional engagement of your abdominal muscles and diaphragm. In turn, this results in more efficient breathing as you are able to take in more air with every breath. Here’s how to do it:

  • Step 1: Lie face up on a comfortable surface. If needed, place a pillow under your head and knees.
  • Step 2: Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly.
  • Step 3: Inhale through the nose, taking a full and deep breath while pushing your diaphragm down. You should feel your stomach rise against your hand.
  • Step 4: Exhale through pursed lips, allowing the stomach to fall and your chest to fully empty.
  • Step 5: Repeat for three to five rounds.

Relax and Breathe

Stress can quickly become problematic in various ways. In fact, chronic stress is linked with a variety of adverse health conditions, including heart disease. Be proactive about your stress. Find ways to relax and de-stress, such as using the above breathing techniques.

At the same time, if you have been experiencing anxiety and stress for a while, it may help to talk to someone. Reach out to a professional. Sometimes, we all need a little help, and a professional can offer further techniques and guidance to lower your anxiety or stress, helping you lead the life you want.

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