Learn a breathing exercise to refresh your mental state.
(Also read: This Breathing Exercise Could Help You Live Longer)
When you’re panicking, scared or stressed, the best way to calm down is to breathe deeply and slowly. Taking long and deep breaths helps to send more oxygen to your brain so you can think more clearly. One famous example is the 4-7-8 breathing exercise popularised by American physician Dr Andrew Weil. But there are many methods you can try; here are some of our favourites.
Simple long breaths
This is a simplified version of the 4-7-8 technique. Sit cross-legged and place your hands on your knees. Keep your spine and neck straight and shoulders relaxed. Close your eyes. Breathe in for four counts and bring your chin to the chest. Hold your breath for seven counts and bring your head up. Exhale through the mouth for eight counts. Continue for a minute.
(Also read: How to Do Deep Breathing For Instantly Better Health)
Full yogic breath
This deep breathing exercise fills your entire respiratory system with oxygen. Sometimes you may even hear the creaking of your bones as your body stretches in areas that you rarely bother with.
Sit cross-legged and place your hands on your knees. Keep your spine and neck straight and shoulders relaxed. Close your eyes. Place your hands on the chest or belly.
Breathe in through the nose and feel the air move right through to the naval. Feel your fingers move apart lightly as your ribs expand. Continue breathing in and allow your shoulders to lift naturally. Then exhale slowly. Continue for a minute.
Alternate nostril breathing
Often done at the beginning of yoga practice, alternate nostril breathing is said to bring balance to your emotional, mental and physical well-being. It relaxes the mind and relaxes anxiety.
Again, sitting in a comfortable position, close your eyes. Place your right index and middle fingers between the brows, and cover your right nostril with your thumb. Breathe in through your left nostril. Next, cover the left nostril with the ring finger and release your thumb. Exhale through the right nostril. Continue for a minute.
(Also read: Feeling Stressed? Try Laughter Yoga At Home)
Skull shining breath
Also known as kapalabhati, this technique is fast-paced and invigorating. You should do this on an empty stomach or at least two hours after a meal.
Sitting with your spine straight, relax your shoulders and close your eyes. Inhale deeply and start exhaling forcefully through the nose. Your abs should contract with each exhale. Your body will naturally inhale in between. Do this for about a minute before releasing your breath slowly. Take a short break. Do the exercise three times.
(Also read: 8 Effective Ways to De-Stress and Get a Mental Reset)
Upward abdominal lock
This technique, the uddiyana bandha will be familiar to advanced yogis. The idea is to “lift” the organs up and behind the ribs as you “isolate” the stomach. This exercise is said to help you take deeper breaths throughout the day and improve your digestive system. Avoid doing this with a full tummy.
Sit or stand comfortably, with your hands placed beside the body. Hunch your back and imagine stretching your tailbone inwards. Lean forward slightly with your head relaxed. Breathe normally for three breaths. Then inhale deeply and forcefully exhale. As you hold your breath, contract your abs and bring your tummy in and up. Move your ribs upwards. Then gently release and exhale. Do the exercise three times.