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Between working from home, socially distancing, and the constant influx of breaking news, our daily lives have unexpectedly changed. As we navigate our new routines, it’s important to include techniques that support us through these challenging times. To help, we’ve gathered three breathing exercises that any of us can do to manage stress as it arises.

Why Breathing?

Breathing is one way we can consciously control certain aspects of our autonomic nervous system. This system is responsible for all the involuntary systems in our body, such as our heart rate, breathing, and perspiration. No coincidence, these are the same areas that are activated when we get overly stressed. In extreme situations, our body begins pumping adrenaline and is getting ready for “fight or flight.”

We can use breathing techniques to counteract involuntary responses to stressful situations, keep us focused and balanced, and to dissipate stress as it mounts. So, whether it’s just taking a moment for yourself during these changing times, or a way to avoid a big blow up, the following exercises — guided by Tori Schaefer, Life Time’s national director of yoga operations — can support your sense of balance and serenity.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This is a great day starter. Alternate Nostril Breathing, also known as Nadi Shodhana, helps create mental focus and energy. Think of it like a cup of coffee for your mind and body.

Listen for guided instructions.


Inhale Retention

When stress and tension start to build, try this retention method, also known as Antara Kumbhaka. This exercise features slow mindful exhalation that stimulates the vagus nerve. This has been found to have a direct impact on your autonomic nervous system, which controls your breathing, heartbeat, and digestion.

Listen for guided instructions.


Three-Part Breath  

Try this exercise when you’re ready to rest your mind. The three-part breath, also known as Dirgha Pranayama, is the perfect for anytime your nerves are racing or to end the day. 

Listen for guided instructions.

Jack Fahden

Jack Fahden is the director of copy and content creation at Life Time.

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