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Breathing practices for calmness

  • 3 mins

With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) impacting on a global and local level, it is completely understandable for people to become stressed or anxious.

Managing these emotions is important to help counteract negative impacts in other areas of our lives, such as getting the right amount of sleep or our overall physical and mental health.

HenderCare’s Clinical Nurse Educator, Teresa Barter, has put together some simple breathing techniques which can be done anywhere, anytime to help calm the emotions, relax the body and clear the mind.

1. Start the day and energise! (Namaste breath) Stand with weight evenly distributed in the feet, body stable, erect, poised and at ease. Bring the hands in prayer position in front of the heart. Inhale strongly and sweep the arms wide and up overhead, interlocked the fingers and push the palms towards the ceiling in a stretch. Lift your head to look up. Exhale and sweep the arms back down and join them in the prayer position, face to the front. Continue for 10 breaths.

2. Ujjayi breath – to calm, and build inner strength Breathe deeply with very slow, relaxed breaths. Close the back of the throat a little so the breath sounds husky in the throat, both inhaling and exhaling. The breath (and prana or vital life force) is sprayed out under pressure to all parts, all tissues.

3. Balancing breath (Nadi Shodana or alternate nostril breath) With the right hand, use your thumb to seal off under the right nostril, your middle finger resting at the eyebrow centre, and use your ring finger to seal off the left nostril. Left hand rests in chin mudra on the left knee. Inhale through the left nostril, seal off both, and exhale through the right. Inhale through the right nostril, seal off both, and exhale through the left. Continue alternating nostrils for 10 breaths, with inhalation and exhalation of equal duration.

4. Calming breath (Peace breath) Rest in savasana – completely relaxed physically. Pay particular attention to releasing the muscles in the face, neck and shoulders. Release tensions from the abdomen and back. Inhale strongly, pause, then exhale just a little way, pause and say to yourself ‘peace’, exhale a little further, pause and say to yourself ‘peace’, and then once more. Continue breathing in, then breathing out in stepwise fashion. With the out breath, visualise stepping down a staircase, pausing on each step where the word ‘peace’ is written. Slowing down the exhalation has a calming effect

5. Yogic breath (three part breath – filling the bottom, the middle, the top) Lie or sit with fingers around the lower ribs. Inhale and let your diaphragm flatten downwards against the liver and stomach to enlarge the lung space. Feel the abdomen protrude as little. Draw the breath to the sides of the chest, letting the ribs expand outwards, and to the top under the collarbones. Exhale and release the air from the top, the sides, and the bottom of the lungs. Draw the abdominal muscles inwards towards the spine and allow the diaphragm to push air up and out.

Adapted from Beyond Blue Australia by Teresa Barter, March 2020

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