Life always has its challenges, but the last two years have added a significant layer of stress to the mix. Trying to maintain the expectations of modern life – fuss, profit, influence, companion, reproduction, cessation of climate change, dismantling racist heteropatriarchy (all while it never ages!) – was quite difficult before introducing an unprecedented in our lives -pandemic. That’s why it’s more important than ever to have easily accessible tools to calm the TF — such as quick, easy 5-minute breathing exercises to reduce stress.
Breathwork is a form of meditation based on the body, not the mind, to do the work of calm. It reduces stress by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and increasing oxygen to the brain (and yes, there is real science to support these benefits).
One of the best things about breathwork is that you do not need any specialization or formal training to practice it. In addition, breathing exercises can be somewhat easier than meditation (so to speak), as they do not require you to constantly fight your brain to reap the benefits. And because “busy” is the biggest buzzword of the modern age, it helps that breathing does not take long to practice to be effective.
Below, two experts — Maryam Ajayi, founder of Dive in Well and a certified breathing professional, and Stevie Wright, a self-taught coach and facilitator of breathing — share breathing exercises to reduce stress. In just five minutes, they will help you properly calm your mind, body and soul.
Maryam Ajay’s breathing exercise for honor and release
Ajay’s favorite five-minute breathing exercise is designed to keep you from taking over other people’s emotions. “It’s a practice to explore your inner landscape to see what is theirs, what is not and what needs to be released in order to thrive,” he says.
“Bring an intention to an emotion you are in right now, an emotion you may feel uncomfortable with. It could be anger, rage, shame, sadness,” says Ajayi.
2. Next, name the emotion you are focusing on and pay attention to how you experience it. “How does it sit in your body? Where does it sit in your body? Take time to be present and feel for about a minute,” he advises.
3. “Then explore whether this feeling is yours or not,” he says. “So just ask: is this feeling mine? And if it is not, can you release it?”
4. “If this does not belong to you, I will ask you, ‘Can I release it easily?'” Says Ajayi. He then advises you to take a deep breath and with the exhale, let it go and let it go.
5. “If the feeling is yours, give yourself permission to feel and also be released to leave room for what serves you,” he advises. “Breathing in: feeling. Breathing out: release.”
6. Try this for a few minutes or “until you feel full,” says Ajayi.
Stevie Wright’s breathing practice to relieve stress, ground and relieve stress
1. Close your eyes gently.
2. Take a few deep breaths to calm down.
3. Inhale through your nose, counting to six.
Exhale through your mouth counting to seven.
5. Repeat this pattern for four minutes.
“Visualize the relaxation, the ease, the flow that enters your body as you inhale and the release of tension, stress and fear as you exhale,” says Wright. “With each exhale, soften your shoulders even more, feel your muscles relax.”
7. After 4 minutes, sit in silence for another minute before opening your eyes.
Oh Hello! You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts on modern wellness brands and exclusive Well + Good content. Join Well +, our online wellness community and unlock your rewards right away.