5 Somatic Breathing Exercises For Anxiety Relief

5 Somatic Breathing Exercises For Anxiety Relief

Before learning about various somatic breathing exercises, take a second to tune into your breath right at this moment. Are your breaths shallow or deep? Are you breathing quickly or slowly? Once you answer these questions, determine whether you are anxious, calm, worried, content, safe, or in fear. Take a deep breath in and slowly release whatever you are feeling. Believe it or not, you just completed your first somatic breathing exercise. 

What Is Somatic Breathing?

Somatic breathing, or somatic breathwork, is a therapeutic modality that aims to illuminate the influence of your breath on your emotions and vice versa. It is a practice that aims to connect the mind and body, emphasizing the connection between physical, mental, and emotional states. This idea behind somatic breathwork is that bringing awareness to your breath and engaging in different exercises can lead to self-improvement, stress reduction, anxiety relief, and emotional healing. 

How Does It Work?

Somatic breathing works to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, or the body’s rest and digest mode. This system helps to counteract the effects of the sympathetic nervous system, which activates during times of danger or stress. When you intentionally slow down your breathing and focus on physical sensations, you can notice feelings of relaxation, calmness, and overall well-being. 

When you incorporate somatic breathing exercises into your daily routine, you may experience the following:

  • Better stress management
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Increased body awareness
  • Enhanced emotional regulation
  • Increased mind and body awareness

Humming Exhalation

Sound is a powerfully relaxing and calming tool, so adding sounds to your breathing, especially during exhalation can help release built-up emotions. This is how you can practice somatic humming exhalation:

  • Find a comfortable seated position and close your eyes or relax your gaze. Take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth to find the present moment. 
  • On you next exhale, make a humming sound by gently closing your lips and making a “hmmmm” noise as you breathe out.
  • Focus on the sound within your body and the vibration. Allow yourself to fully immerse in the experience. 
  • Continue this practice for two to three minutes, releasing the tension with each exhale. 
  • When you are ready, open your eyes and take a moment to note how you feel. 

Sound Stimulation Breathing

If you want to do this exercise properly, do not feel embarrassed or self-conscious by the vocalization element. The focus should not be on your sound, but rather on how sound influences your breath. Maintain a sense of curiosity and notice shifts in the breath and body.

  • First off, sustain a “shhh” sound, as though you are quieting someone. Place your hands on different areas of your chest, abdomen, or rib cage. Notice where you feel the most movement, pause, and observe any breathing changes. 
  • Now, experiment with a quick “psst” sound. Again, place your hands on different areas of your chest, abdomen, and rib cage to feel and observe the sensations.
  • Finally, let out a growl and focus on the low tone in your throat. Experience the vibrations in your chest, ribs, and abdomen with your hands. What do you notice? 

Grounding Somatic Breathing Exercise

The goal of this breathing exercise is to anchor you in the present moment. Think of this as taking a pit stop to charge your personal battery. Use your breath to anchor you in the present, as if it is your navigation system that leads you back home. 

  • Get comfortable in a seated or lying position, shut your eyes, or relax your gaze. 
  • Focus on the natural rhythm of your breath, feeling the rise and fall of your chest. Observe each breath without attempting to influence it. Just observe.
  • If you find that your mind drifts away, come back to your breath. Imagine that each inhale invites invigorating energy into the body, and that you release tension with every exhale. 
  • Practice breath awareness for two to five minutes, releasing any thoughts or distractions while doing so.

The 3-4-5 Breathing

If you are prone to anxiety or stress, this breathing exercise can be very beneficial. To practice this exercise, do the following steps:

  • Inhale for three seconds.
  • Hold for four seconds.
  • Exhale for five seconds.

When your exhale is longer than your inhale, you reduce your stress response and promote a better state of being. Repeat the above sequence a few times, or extend the practice to five minutes. Make sure to note your body’s signals to determine when to stop the exercise. 

Nostril Breathing Exercise

For the last somatic breathing exercise, we have nostril breathing, which works to lower stress and boost respiratory function. This practice can help enhance your energy balance if you switch nostrils with each inhale and exhale. 

  • Sit down in a cross-legged position and place your left hand on your left knee. 
  • Plug your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale slowly through the left nostril. 
  • Close the left nostril with your right ring finger, releasing your thumb off the right nostril. Exhale through the right nostril. 
  • Inhale through the right nostril, close it, and exhale through the left nostril. Continue alternating between nostrils for two to five minutes.

2024-05-03T11:37:59-07:00
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