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Breathing Exercise to Calm Down When Stressed

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

“It’s not stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it.”―Hans Selye

Hans Seyle—often known as the father of stress research—was the first scientist that was able to link stress with disease and identify that our reaction to stress has a much biggest impact on our overall wellbeing than stress itself.

It’s therefore helpful to have at our fingertips tools and techniques to help us manage stressful situations and experiences. Practicing yoga, breathing and mindfulness can provide us with simple breathing exercises to use as a way to calm down when our body, breath and mind feel stressed.

Want to jump right into practicing this simple breathing exercise? Come to a seated position and practice along with this simple breathing exercise to calm down when stressed.

Deep Breathing Exercises for Stress Relief

Viloma is a deep breathing exercise (also known as pranayama) that can be used for stress relief. It involves slowing down your inhale by pausing part way through and then keeping each exhale slow and smooth.

Below you can find the steps to follow to practice Viloma.

  1. Find a seated position of your choice and take a few rounds of slow and steady breaths.

  2. Inhale part way, pause, inhale again, pause, and exhale slowly.

  3. Repeat for around 10 rounds pausing part way through your inhale and following with a smooth exhale.

  4. If your breath capacity allows experiment with 10 rounds of splitting the inhale in three parts (inhale, pause, inhale, pause, inhale, pause, exhale). If this doesn’t feel comfortable stick with the first part of splitting the inhale in two parts (inhale, pause, inhale, pause, exhale).

  5. Keep doing your best to balance the length of each part of the inhale with the same length of the pause. As well as keeping the exhale nice and slow.

  6. If you went up to a higher count you can slowly make your way back down after 20 – 30 rounds to the lower count of inhaling twice with two pauses.

  7. And then finally finish with a few rounds of natural breath.

As you get more familiar with the technique you could experiment with splitting the inhale into four of five parts with pauses between. Perhaps doing 5 -7 rounds of splitting the inhale in two, three, four, and five parts. So in total you're still working towards around 20 – 30 breaths.

Looking for tips on how to do other yogic deep breathing exercises? Check out my blogs and practice videos on equal breathing, full yogic breath, and alternate nostril breathing.

Happy practicing!

X Irene

breathing exercise to calm down

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