4 ways to focus on your breath to stress less

Here at Stressless®, we’ve posted before about how to literally stress less, but in this blog post we want to explore deep breathing, in particular, as it is a scientifically proven and easy way to reduce stress and anxiety. Deep breathing tactics and practices date back to ancient times as a part of cultural traditions, some of which include yoga, qi gong and tai chi. Today, deep breathing is studied across various fields (medical, athletics, yoga, education etc.). In addition to reducing stress and anxiety, deep breathing allows for better mental clarity and sleep, a more efficient digestive and immune system and faster recovery upon exercising. All great reasons to give it a try! Here are 4 ways to incorporate deep breathing into your routine.

Practice makes perfect

If you are looking for a cost-effective way to work on deep breathing, simply practice on your own at home. According to the American Institute of Stress, 20-30 minutes a day of deep breathing, can ease stress and anxiety. Set a routine where you take 10-15 minutes each morning and night in a quiet area of your home. The position to be in is upright, so your sofa or recliner is the perfect spot. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other hand on your belly, below the ribcage. Allow your belly to relax, without forcing it inward by squeezing or clenching your muscles. Breathe in slowly through your nose. The air should move into your nose and downward so that you feel your stomach rise with your other hand and fall inward (toward your spine). Exhale slowly. That is it!

Join a yoga studio

This may take some research, but many yoga studios/classes incorporate a specific type of deep breathing known as nadai shodhana which means “purifying the channels,” or more simply put, alternate nostril breathing. It dates back thousands of years to the Yoga Yajnavalkya and is potentially the most powerful breathing technique there is. The practice involves the following steps:

  1. Close your eyes and start by positioning your right hand by bending your pointer and middle fingers into your palm, leaving your thumb, ring finger, and pinky extended.
  2. Slowly inhale and exhale with both nostrils for 3-5 cycles
  3. Close off your right nostril with your thumb.
  4. Inhale through your left nostril.
  5. Close off your left nostril with your ring finger.
  6. Open and exhale through your right nostril.
  7. Inhale through your right nostril.
  8. Close off your right nostril with your thumb.
  9. Open and exhale through your left nostril
  10.  Inhale through your left nostril.

Clearly, this is something you can do away from the yoga studio, as well, but the nice part of going to a class is that you can get on a schedule, move your body and practice/focus on your breathing at the same time. If you do not want to attend a class, do this on your own, again, sitting upright and start at 5 cycles, working your way up to 10.

Read a book

There are several books on the science and benefits of breathing and different breathing techniques. Here are some of the most notable and informative:

  1. Breath, by James Nestor.
  2. The Oxygen Advantage, by Patrick McKown (in relation to physical activity)
  3. Science of Breath, by Swami Rama, Rudolph Ballentine, MD, & Alan Hymes, MD
  4. The Breathing Cure, by Patrick McKown (in relation to general health)
  5. Breathing Lessons, by Meilan K. Han, MD


Download an app

If you are not big into reading and are having trouble focusing on guiding yourself through breathing exercises, there are some good iPhone apps out there that will help walk you through various breathing techniques.

  1. Breath
  2. Othership
  3. Headspace
  4. Breathwrk
  5. Calm

Everyday life can bring us a lot to take on and cause fear, anxiety, or discomfort. There are, though, many ways to cope and help you through it and breathing exercises are a great start. Visit your nearest Stressless® dealer to find the perfect furniture to try these tips out for yourself.