Deep breathing is an effective, no-frills way to help you alleviate stress, reduce tension, and find your center.

We chatted with Gympass employee and yoga instructor Lindsay Monal to learn more about her experience with deep breathing exercises and the many benefits of this practice.

Check out her guidance below:

Deep breathing benefits

Deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which encourages the “rest-and-digest” response (the opposite of “fight-or-flight”). By utilizing them effectively, deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress and anxiety and promote a sense of calm.

“If you can control your breath, you can control how you’re reacting and responding to the world,” Monal said.

Tips for first-timers

So when does Monal try to make time for deep breathing exercises? If she’s going to practice yoga, she usually starts with some breathing to get more centered and grounded. She also uses deep breathing to check in with herself throughout the day, especially when she’s feeling stressed out. 

To really feel their breath navigating through their body, many people place their hand on their chest, abdomen, or other parts of the body. If this is uncomfortable for you, feel free to place your hands in your lap. Sitting on a pillow or cushion will help you elevate your hips and sit up a bit straighter.

A deep breathing exercise to try on your own

Monal put together an exercise called “Full Complete Breath.” The goal is to start to recognize and feel your breath in three different areas of your body: your abdomen, side ribs, and chest. Check out the steps below and give deep breathing a try.

  1. Find a tall, comfortable seat. Sit up on a pillow or cushion to help lift your hips and lengthen your spine. Relax your shoulders down your back.
  2. Bring your hands to your abdomen and take three long deep breaths down into the abdomen.
  3. Bring your hands to your side ribs. Take three deep breaths into the sides of the ribs. Feel as the ribs expand into your hands on the inhale and contract towards the center on the exhale.
  4. Bring your hands to your chest. Take three deep breaths into the chest and feel the chest rise and fall with each inhale and exhale.
  5. Bring one hand to your chest and one to your abdomen. Take three full complete breaths, inhaling fully into the chest, ribs, and abdomen and exhaling completely out of the abdomen, ribs, and chest.
  6. Smile! And take a moment to feel gratitude for your breath, your body, and this moment. Namaste.

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