Shanti-Som Wellbeing Retreat breathing techniques
06.05.2022
Mental Health

5 Most Effective Breathing and Relaxation Techniques


At times, we get so consumed in our hectic lifestyles with deadlines to meet and work-life pressure that we actually forget to relax! Yet using breathing and relaxation techniques during the day can give us the energy we need to tackle our workload or the problem we are facing.

Stress can be harmful for the mind and the body. Physical symptoms such as headaches, tension in the neck and shoulders, dizziness, fatigue and poor sleep can all be a result of stress overload. Stress also leads to serious health problems like high blood pressure, headaches, stomach aches, anxiety and depression. It can affect our mental state too as it elevates levels of cortisol, a hormone that affects the function of the brain.

We are not always able to avoid stress, but learning to manage stress is key! Breathing and relaxation techniques can help your body relax and lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Our Wellness Expert at Shanti-Som has selected some of the most effective and easily accessible techniques for you to try. Learning the basics of these relaxation techniques isn’t difficult, but it takes regular practice to truly harness their stress-relieving power. Try setting aside at least 10 minutes a day for your relaxation practice.

Finding the Best Breathing and Relaxation Techniques for You.

For many of us, relaxation means flopping on the couch and zoning out with Netflix at the end of a stressful day. But this does little to reduce the damaging effects of stress. Rather, you need to activate your body’s natural relaxation response, a state of deep rest that puts the brakes on stress, slows your breathing and heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and brings your body and mind back into balance. You can do this by practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and Yoga.

While you may choose to pay for a professional massage or acupuncture session, for example, most relaxation techniques can be done on your own or with the aid of a free audio download or inexpensive smartphone app. It’s important to remember, however, that there is no single relaxation technique that works for everyone. We’re all different. The right technique is the one that resonates with you, fits your lifestyle, and is able to focus your mind to elicit the relaxation response. That means it may require some trial and error to find the technique that work best for you. Once you do, regular practice can help reduce everyday stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, boost your energy and mood, and improve your overall health and wellbeing.

Tools for Guided Breathing and Relaxation Techniques

There are many different types of relaxation techniques, and each one differs depending on the type of situation or personal preference.

Many people find that smartphone apps or audio downloads can be useful in guiding them through different relaxation practices, establishing a regular routine, and keeping track of progress. For example, Breathe is a free app for Apple users that includes a feature to set reminders to use it regularly during the day.

A free app called Prana Breath: Calm & Meditate is available from the Google Play store. It helps users practice breathing cycles and different methods of breathing for relaxation.

Try this 1-minute deep breathing exercise

 

Types of Breathing and Relaxation Techniques

 

1. The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

The 4-7-8 breathing technique requires a person to focus on taking a long, deep breath in and out. Rhythmic breathing is a core part of many meditation and yoga practices as it promotes relaxation. Some proponents claim that the method helps people get to sleep in 1 minute.

To use the 4-7-8 technique, focus on the following breathing pattern:

  • breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds
  • hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds
  • exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds
  • repeat the cycle up to 4 times

To start with you will probably find holding your breath for 7 seconds difficult, so don’t push yourself and aim for the right ratio of breaths in and out. The total number of seconds that the pattern lasts for is less important than keeping the ratio.

When you are starting out this technique, you may try a shorter pattern instead, such as:

  • breathe in through the nose for 2 seconds
  • hold the breath for a count of 3.5 seconds
  • exhale through the mouth for 4 seconds

As long as a person maintains the correct ratio, they may notice benefits after several days or weeks of doing 4-7-8 breathing consistently one to two times a day.

2. Abdominal Breathing Technique

The abdominal breathing technique can be really helpful before experiencing a particularly stressful event like taking an exam or giving a big presentation. This is a great way to level your breath when you can feel your heart pounding in your chest.

How to do it:

  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing diaphragm (not your chest) to inflate with enough air to create a slight stretching sensation in your lungs.
  • Slowly exhale.

Try taking 6–10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day using this breathing technique. Keep at it for 6 to 8 weeks, and those benefits might stick around even longer.

3. Progressive Muscular Relaxation

This technique involves tightening and relaxing the muscles throughout your body. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start with the muscles in your toes and feet
  • Tighten them for a few moments and then relax them
  • Move up your body, tightening and relaxing one muscle group at a time

Here are a few examples of ways to engage in progressive muscular relaxation. Hold each position for five seconds, and then relax.

  • Raise your eyebrows as high as you can.
  • Close your eyes as tightly as possible and keep them shut for five seconds.
  • Open your mouth as wide as possible, as if you’re yawning.
  • Hold your arms in front of you and clench your fists as tightly as possible.
  • Pull your shoulder muscles up toward your ears.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles.
  • Curl your toes downwards as much as possible.

4. Yoga

Yoga involves a series of both moving and stationary poses, combined with deep breathing. As well as reducing fatigue, anxiety and stress, yoga can also improve flexibility, strength, balance, and stamina. To start with it’s best to join a group class or at least follow a Yoga video as the incorrect technique can lead to injuries

Although almost all yoga classes end in a relaxation pose, classes that emphasize slow, steady movement, deep breathing, and gentle stretching are best for stress relief.

  • Yin Yoga is all about relaxation and deep stretches for the ultimate Zen. It is a more passive style of yoga with gentle poses, deep relaxation and mediation which makes it suitable for beginners as well as anyone aiming for stress reduction.
  • Hatha yoga is also a reasonably gentle way to relieve stress and is suitable for beginners. Alternately, look for labels like gentle, for stress relief, or for beginners when selecting a yoga class.
  • Vinyasa yoga, with its intense poses and focus on fitness, is better suited to those looking for stimulation as well as relaxation.

5. Meditation

Meditation involves focused attention to help you relax and has many benefits.  Meditation may help you react in a calmer way to your emotions and thoughts, including those that cause stress. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, and there are several different styles.

This is one way to do it:

  • Sit down in a comfortable position
  • Notice and relax your body, paying attention to your body’s weight and how it feels
  • Focus on your breath. Don’t change your breathing, just focus on your natural breath, the sensation of breathing in and out
  • When your mind strays, let the thoughts pass through. Go back to focusing on your breath. Keep at it for about 5 minutes

When you first start practicing, you’ll likely find that your focus keeps wandering back to your worries or regrets. But don’t get disheartened. Each time you draw your focus back to the present, you’re strengthening a new mental habit that can help you break free of fretting about the past or stressing about the future. Using an app or audio download can also help focus your attention, especially when you’re starting out.

Conclusion

Sometimes it can take time and practice to start reaping the full rewards of breathing and relaxation techniques. Try to carve out some time, just before bed or whilst you walk the dog. The more you stick with it, the sooner the results will come. If you skip a few days or even a few weeks, don’t get discouraged. Just get started again and slowly build up to your old momentum.

Your breath is one of your best defenses against daily stress, frustration, and angst. Once you learn the art of expert inhaling and exhaling, you’ll likely start to feel better. You might notice that you’ve developed a little extra resilience and grace.

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Saying 'no' is a handy, magic word which can protect you and your boundaries. This can be a really difficult word to say. You might need to practice it slowly. After all, the guilt of saying 'no' could cause you a lot of anxiety. 
How about starting with a stranger, or someone you seldom meet. Step by step drop the 'no' word in with close friends, colleagues, your boss, and finally the toughest ones - your family members. Explain why, and offer alternative solutions. Slowly the scales will tip, and we hope you find yourself saying 'yes' to YOU more than anyone else! 
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Here’s our house marinated salmon, accompanied with fresh leaves and citrus fruits. Very simple but very delicious! Bon appetite! 🍋
#healthyfood #freshfood #citrusfresh #marbslife #marbellalifestyle #shantisomwellbeingretreat #marbellarestaurants #wellnessretreat #foodies #healthcoach #simplerecipeAudrey is Shanti-Som's resident Yoga Instructor. To be honest she's a lot more than that to our guests as she guides them on a journey of self discovery and awareness. Audrey believes in a holistic approach to wellness where physical, mental and emotional wellbeing are all connected. She hopes through the practice of Yoga, guests discover the best version of themselves, to live a more peaceful and joyful life, and to find the grace and kindness to be better to others. Audrey's genuine and personable nature sparks a lot of inspiration and motivation in her classes. As she comes up to her 3 year anniversary with Shanti-Som, we would like to say a big thank you to her for helping our guests discover a more happy, calm and confident way of being. 
Audrey loves spending time in nature and when not teaching Yoga she can be found hiking, camping or travelling. 
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🎥 @a_touch_of_tinksJuan Antonio has been part of our team since 2013 and is at the heart of our Retreat in the Shanti-Som kitchen as Head Chef. His signature dishes have become staple menu items that repeat guests look forward returning to, time after time. After tasting one of Juan Antonio's meals, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the heartiness and complexity of flavours, which is contrary to what people believe is served at a Wellness Retreat. In addition to cooking, he loves cinema and music. 
Thank you Juan Antonio for bringing life and joy to 'healthy eating'. 
What are your favorite dishes on our menu?
#wellnessmarbella #marbellawellness #marbellawellbeing #wellbeingmarbella #retreatmarbella #marbellaretreat #retreatspain #wellbeingretreat
#marbella #marbs #spainholiday #yogaretreatspain #marbellalifestyle #shantisom #shantisomwellbeing #meettheteam #chef #cookingishismusicIt’s Monday again and are you moving at a million miles an hour to get everything done? Trying to please everyone? Often our weeks are tiring and to make our weekends exciting we over stretch our commitments. 
Today we ask you to stop. When we over commit, stay in places we don’t want to be or be around people who diminish our energy we create unnecessary negativity. 

Try for this week, just do YOU! Do the things that make YOU happy! 💫

If you struggle with this, what is stopping you from saying ‘no’ to the things you don’t want to do? Leave a comment 👇 
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#marbella #marbs #spainholiday #yogaretreatspain #marbellalifestyle #shantisom #shantisomwellbeingFinally #friyay! 
Have a RELAXED WEEKEND, TAKE CARE of you, get enough ME-TIME and keep in mind that there well be ONE HOUR EXTRA on sunday with time-change for those living in CET! ⏱️

#wellnessmarbella #marbellawellness #marbellawellbeing #wellbeingmarbella #retreatmarbella #marbellaretreat #retreatspain #wellbeingretreat
#marbella #marbs #spainholiday #yogaretreatspain #marbellalifestyle #shantisom #shantisomwellbeing #weekend #timechange #relaxOur next member on #teamthursday is someone who acts more likely behind the scene: VALENTINA TUDOSE - most of the people know her as „Tina“. 

She is one of our lovely fairies from the housekeeping team who ensure that our guests find everything in perfect order and cleanliness, so they are able to concentrate entirely on themselves, their process and their relaxation. ✨

Tina says that she loves to be in nature and when she came to Shanti-Som in 2016 for the very first time the first thing she thought: Oh wow, that nature here! After 6 years she is still grateful every day when she comes up to work or looks out of a window that she can work in such a lovely place. 

Thank you Tina for your work! We are so happy to have such a warm-hearted person on our team 🙏🏼

#wellnessmarbella #marbellawellness #marbellawellbeing #wellbeingmarbella #retreatmarbella #marbellaretreat #retreatspain #wellbeingretreat
#marbella #marbs #spainholiday #yogaretreatspain #marbellalifestyle #shantisom #shantisomwellbeing #housekeeping #teamwork #naturelover #natureNATURE IS THE PUREST PORTAL 
TO INNER PEACE: ‘SHANTI‘. ✨ 
- Angie Weiland Crosby -

Lucky us, that our small sanctuary is deeply rooted in lush, flourishing nature to make it even easier for you to walk on the path towards your own ‘Shanti‘.

We can’t wait to welcome you here and guide you! 🙏🏼

#innerpeace #nature #shanti #healing #wellnessmarbella #marbellawellness #marbellawellbeing #wellbeingmarbella #retreatmarbella #marbellaretreat #retreatspain #wellbeingretreat
#marbella #marbs #spainholiday #yogaretreatspain #marbellalifestyle #shantisom #shantisomwellbeingWe think, that you can count the total amount of rain days here in Andalusia on both of your hands.
BUT if it rains, we see it as natural refill for brand new SHANTI-SOM bottles. 😉💦
On the other 355 days with ☀️ you can refill your bottle at one of several dispenser around our hotel for free. 
And the best thing: when you stay 5 nights or more, you get the bottle for free! 
That is what we call a #sustainablesunday 
- we hope, you have a relaxed one! 🧘🏽

#sustainability #refill #refillyourbottle #wellnessmarbella #marbellawellness #marbellawellbeing #wellbeingmarbella #retreatmarbella #marbellaretreat #retreatspain #wellbeingretreat
#marbella #marbs #spainholiday #yogaretreatspain #marbellalifestyle #shantisom #shantisomwellbeingOur next team member on #teamthursday is JUAN ARANA TORRES, one of our lovely hosts in the restaurant. 
With a never fading smile, Juan serves at Shanti-Som since 2017 already. If he can not be with his Shanti-Som family and bringing his passion in serving you your favorite dish, he loves to be with his own family most. Especially with his little daughter. 
We appreciate your warm-hearted service for all of our guests, Juan!

#wellnessmarbella #marbellawellness #marbellawellbeing #wellbeingmarbella #retreatmarbella #marbellaretreat #retreatspain #wellbeingretreat
#marbella #marbs #spainholiday #yogaretreatspain #marbellalifestyle #shantisom #shantisomwellbeing #teammember #stafflove #appreciationJUST SOUND ON: Get your daily dose of SHANTI here by listening to nature and water for only a couple of seconds. 
💧🌴
And soak in a little bit of Andalusian sun rays… ☀️
Have a lovely day! 💙

 #shanti #getshanti #relax #relaxation #soundon #healingenergy #heamingvibrations #wellnessmarbella #marbellawellness #marbellawellbeing #wellbeingmarbella #retreatmarbella #marbellaretreat #retreatspain #wellbeingretreat
#marbella #marbs #spainholiday #yogaretreatspain #marbellalifestyle #shantisom #shantisomwellbeingWhat we mean when we talk about our 
„HIDDEN SANCTUARY DEEP IN NATURE“.

When you enter our gate you will immediately feel a glimpse of your „SHANTI“, your INNER PEACE, because the nature around us gives us access to our very own nature. 

Can you feel it? 🌴☀️🌿

What is the most important thing for you to find your SHANTI? ☮️

#innerpeace #shanti #truenature 
#wellnessmarbella #marbellawellness #marbellawellbeing #wellbeingmarbella #retreatmarbella #marbellaretreat #retreatspain #wellbeingretreat
#marbella #marbs #spainholiday #yogaretreatspain #marbellalifestyle #shantisom #shantisomwellbeing

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