Patrik Painchaud is a kinesiologist and vice-president of Pulsations Consultants, which specializes in corporate fitness and wellness. He teaches employees how to relax at work – without budging from their seat. He recommends this trio of breathing exercises not only to relieve stress but also to boost brain function:
Deep breathing. Take a deep breath into your belly, inflating it like a balloon. Hold for a few seconds then exhale, pushing the air out completely by deflating your stomach. “This oxygenates your brain, helping you to think better,” says Painchaud.
Wave breathing. Fill your stomach with air, then fill your lungs with air. Hold for a few seconds. Exhale the air in your lungs, followed by the air in your stomach. “Start with just a few breaths and work up to more repetitions. If you do too many too soon, you could get a headache or become dizzy.”
Rhythmic breathing. Breathe in normally for a count of 2. Hold for a count of 2. Exhale for a count of 4 (work up to a count of 3-3-6, then 4-4-8, etc.). “This cleanses the airways and your respiratory system.”
Painchaud advises that beginners do no more than two or three minutes of each exercise at a time, but they can be repeated throughout the day. For maximum effect–except when you’re driving–your eyes should be closed; activities that disrupt the other senses, such as listening to music, should be eliminated.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to sign up for our weekly health newsletter and receive more articles on health and well-being.