When we’re anxious or under stress, we commonly breathe faster, in short and staggered puffs, with the breath coming from high in the upper chest area. Relaxation can be found with longer, slower inhales and exhales beginning low in the diaphragm.
For stress relief, try this humming breath technique called brahmari, (translated from the Sanskrit word for "bee.") The humming sound is relaxing, and as with many breath practices, lengthens the inhalation and exhalation without effort.
First, find a quiet spot to sit (and one where you won’t feel self-conscious humming!) Bring awareness to your posture – create a long spine and relax the shoulders. Begin with a few natural breaths. Close your eyes or soften your gaze. Then, with the lips sealed, inhale through the nose. Exhale, making an ‘mmmmmmm’ sound, much like the sensation and vibration of a humming sound. Sustain the sound until you need to inhale. Continue … inhaling through the nose, then humming like a buzzing bee as you exhale. Continue for several minutes or as long as feels good.
Once you’re done, spend a moment or two sitting quietly and breathing naturally. Notice any changes in your breath – does it seem more smooth and relaxed? How is your mood?
Use this technique any time you feel anxious, or for just a moment or two to realign your mind with the present moment. A little buzzing goes a long way to bringing us back to center.