Yoga for Stress Relief: Try Belly Breathing

This simple, relaxing yogic breathing practice can be used anytime you want to soothe body, mind, and spirit. It reduces stress of any kind—physical, emotional, or spiritual.

How to Practice Yogic Belly Breathing

1. Lie on the floor, in bed, or anyplace else you can be comfortable without falling asleep. Your knees can be bent or draped over a bolster. If that’s not comfortable, lie on the floor with your hips under the front of the seat of a chair, and rest your calves on the seat. Any position is fine, as long as it’s physically comfortable and your spine is in a neutral position.

2. Notice the sensations in your body, without labeling them as “good” or “bad.”  Just be present with these sensations. Surrender your weight into the earth and feel the tension drain from your body.

3. Place your hands on your abdomen and consciously breathe as if you were breathing into your belly. Notice how your belly gently expands with every inhalation and relaxes with every exhalation. Invite your mind to be in this present moment, not concerned with the past, not worried about the future. Every time your mind wanders, simply bring it back to the feeling of the breath in your belly.

4. After a minute or two, begin to lengthen your breath. Take several breaths to deepen each inhalation and exhalation, focusing primarily on a slow, complete exhalation. When you find a rhythm that feels deep, yet smooth and easy, continue breathing at that length. If at any point you feel a sense of strain, shorten the breath again until you find a length that feels full, yet relaxing.

5. Continue breathing this way for approximately five minutes, and then gradually return your breath to a natural, uncontrolled rhythm. Notice the sensations in your body again, still trying not to label them as “good” or “bad.”

6. When you’re ready to transition back to your day, begin with small movements, such as wiggling your fingers and toes or even yawning and stretching. Then roll to your side for a moment before gradually pressing up to sitting.

This simple practice is one of my favorites for soothing both physical and emotional discomfort.  I hope you enjoy it!

Want to learn more about breathing?-this is one of YogaUOnline’s most popular posts – Dr. Ray Long on Deep Breathing: How the Diaphragm Works.

Study with YogaUOnline and Robin Rothenberg – The Healing Power of Breath: Essential Techniques for Healthy Living.

Reprinted with permission from Whole Life Blog

Tracy Weber, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT is the owner of Whole Life Yoga in Seattle as well as the creator and director of Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program. A practicing yoga therapist, she is also the author of the Downward Dog Mystery series, which won the Maxwell award for fiction. She loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any way possible.

Tracy and her husband Marc live in Seattle with their crazy new German shepherd pup, Ana. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, trying to corral Ana, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house. 

For more information on Tracy and the Downward Dog Mysteries, visit her author website:


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