Emotional Wellbeing


Mandy Kloppers

Breathwork to help you feel calm

Everyone once in a while, some moments make us feel a little wobbly. Nothing too big, but still off-balance and in need of catching a breath. 

There are so many ways that you can use your breathing to help you calm down a little, give you time to gather your thoughts and collect yourself. 

If you are a fan of yoga, then you will know the yoga practice of Pranayama. Broken down, Prana means life force, and Ayama means the draw out or extend. 

Before you start on the path to finding the calm in the storm, it’s essential to know some of the benefits of the breathwork.

Benefits of breathwork

Taking control of our breathing, and making sure we are filling up our lungs well at each breath improves our mood, increases the mind-body connection, and reduce anxiety and stress. 

When we use breathwork, we control our breathing, and in doing so, it calms the nervous system. That few moments of calm and clarity can be enough to change the trajectory of the rest of our day. 

Choosing the tight breathwork for you

There isn’t just one way to do breathwork, and you might need to try a few different options before you find the right one for you. 

Breathwork is meant to feel good, and so there isn’t a wrong choice. Instead, it is about finding the right one for you. 

Working with a qualified practitioner on your breathwork for trauma, PTSD, anxiety, and depression is essential. Working with a professional will allow you to add the breathwork to your care plan. 

Learn more about: The different types of psychological treatments.

Breath Retention

This is called Kumbhaka Pranayama, and it does exactly what it says in the name. This practice involves inhaling a breath and holding it for a period of time. It isn’t an uncomfortable practice. And is designed to bring more oxygen to the body and increase lung capacity. 


You start out very easy on this path, holding for around 4 seconds and gradually increasing. 


As you breathe in, notice when your lung reaches capacity, hold the breath, and slowly let it go through the nose. 

Practice for 5 minutes per day. 

“Calmness is a huge gift. And once you master it, you will be able to respond in a useful way to every difficult situation that decides to walk into your heart.” Geri Larkin


Sitkari is designed o help you cool your body down or regulate your body temperately. For this one, sit in a comfortable position with a straight beck, neck and shoulders soft but aligned. 


Let yourself breathe as usual for a moment or two, then bring your upper and lower teeth together. Curl your lips back to expose the teeth as much as possible and start breathing. Let the air slow between your teeth, and make sure the breath is slow and steady. 


You might find the air whistles or hisses as you fill your lung, and that’s perfect! 


Before breathing out, relax your jaw, and exhale out through the nose. Repeated the breathing between 10-20 times until you feel calmer and cooler. 


Sitali is similar to Sitkari, except you will roll your tongue into a tube shape and take your deep breath that way. 


After you have inhaled through the circular shape in the tip of your tongue, take the tongue back inside the mouth and exhale through the nostrils. 

Belly Breathing

Deep breathing is one of the best ways to strengthen the diaphragm. This deep breathing or belly breathing is a strong signal to the body that you want to calm down. 


To get the best from belly breathing, lay down somewhere that you won’t be interrupted. Check each part of your body, and relax it, especially your shoulders and jaw. 


When you take a deep breath, see if you can keep your shoulders and chest still, and let your belly make room for the air. 


Breathe the air in for 4 seconds, but our for 8. 


There are a few more techniques for belly breathing that can take your meditation practice to a whole new level; check out harmonicbreathing.com/.

Boxed Breathing 

When we speak about controlled breathing, this is usually what is being referred to. Boxed breathing is called Sama Vritti, and is a consistent pattern of breathing. 


If you are specifically looking to remorse stress and focus, this is the perfect breathwork for you. 


Once you are in your comfortable position, focus on feeling joyous and filled with gratitude. 


Picture something like the gif below:




Our bodies enjoy the rhythm of this breathing style, and it helps us calm down pretty quickly too. 

 You can hold your breath at the top for four seconds and slowly release it. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This style of breathwork is very popular amongst yogis because it is so mindful and relaxing. You are focused on the repetitive nature of the nostril rather than on any problems that you have. 

Get in a comfy position, and take a full inhale and exhale completely. Place your right thumb on your right nostril and inhale through the left nostril. Then close the left nostril with your ring finger and pinky and exhale out the right. 

Keep that pattern repeating for up to five minutes until you feel any tension you have been holding start to release. 

It is important to note that you might not make it to the full five minutes the first few times that you do this. Breathwork – like all skills – take some time to work up to, and over time you will increase your capacity to complete the session. 

Breathwork is the perfect way to find a little peace and calm throughout the day, and the more often you do it, the more effective it will become and helping you feel centred and calm.  

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

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