Anti-stress breathing: The secret of (real) yogis
Written by: Loris Vitry (coach and Yoga teacher)
Validated by: Cathy Maillot (Osteopath)
Caution: If you have any medical questions or concerns, please speak to your doctor. Even if the articles on this site are based on scientific studies, they do not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
I studied and practiced Yoga for several years and discovered the ultimate secret of all yogis to better manage stress and eliminate anxiety very quickly. If you suffer from any stress, whether at work, at home, in love or in public, then I strongly advise you to read to the end.
Whatever the cause of your stress (money, couple, family, health, etc.), your reaction is always the same. It’s your reptilian brain (unconscious animal brain) that will manage your stress response by speeding up your heart rate and breathing.
Stress and difficulty breathing
This physiological reaction to stress (palpitation and hyperventilation) is the same in all living beings with a reptilian brain, so we too are human beings.
In case of punctual stress, your heart beats quickly and you hyperventilate … Even if at the moment your breathing tends to hang, you will hyperventilize (unconsciously) after the event to find a relaxed breath.
But if you live a constantly stressful life, your breathing will never calm down … and you fall into a syndrome that affects most people on Earth: chronic hyperventilation. You can not imagine how this hyperventilation will quickly deteriorate your body and mind.
Understand one thing: it is not the cause of your stress (money, couple, family, health, etc.) that destroys your health, but your physiological response: palpitation and hyperventilation.
The solution is certainly not to change your life circumstances, but to change your reaction to stress. This means that you need to regain control of a process that is normally done unconsciously. Indeed, it is your unconscious reptilian brain that manages your stress response.
To eliminate your stress, you must control your reptilian brain and its unconscious response to stress (palpitation and hyperventilation). In other words, you must prevent it from triggering palpitations and hyperventilation.
For that, you can try hypnosis that alters your unconscious functioning, you can try NLP that modifies your conscious neural circuits to impact your subconscious, but unfortunately, these popular tools are far, far away, from being as powerful as the breathing to control your reptilian brain.
The powerful yogis (the real ones, not the 21st century yoga teachers) have understood this well. That’s why they’ve come up with many blast techniques to literally destroy stress, anxiety, and your conscious and unconscious fears.
Yoga, breathing and stress management
Let’s see what say Yoga’s oldest texts about stress and breathing …
Hathayoga Pradipika (15th century)
“3. So long as the (breathing) air stays in the body, it is called life. Death consists in passing out of the (breathing) air. It is, therefore, necessary to restrain the breath.”
“17. Hiccough, asthma, cough, pain in the head, the ears, and the eyes; these and other various kinds of diseases are generated by the disturbance of the breath.”
The Shiva Samhita (17-18 century)
“22. Then let the wise practitioner close with his right thumb the pingala (right nostril), inspire air through the ida (the left nostril); and keep the air confined – suspend his breathing – as long as he can; and afterwards let him breathe out slowly, and not forcibly, through the right nostril.”
“23. Again, let him draw breath through the right nostril, and stop breathing as long as his strength permits; then let him expel the air through the left nostril, not forcibly, but slowly and gently.”
“39. When the Yogi can, of his will, regulate the air and stop the breath (whenever and how long) he likes, then certainly he gets success in kumbhaka, and from the success in kumbhaka only, what things cannot the Yogi commend here?”
“43. … from the perfection of pranayama, follows decrease of sleep, excrements and urine.”
“53. Then gradually he should make himself able to practice for three gharis (one hour and a half at a time, he should be able to restrain breath for that period). Through this, the Yogi undoubtedly obtains all the longed for powers.”
“57. When he gets the power of holding breath (i.e., to be in a trance) for three hours, then certainly the wonderful state of pratyahar is reached without fail.”
The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali (4th-2nd century BC)
“Pranayama [the main breathing exercise in yoga] is the cessation of inspiratory and expiratory movements.”
The Gheranda Samhita (15-17 century)
“7. Wherenever the yogi may be, he should always, in everything he does, be sure to keep the tongue upwards and constantly hold the breath. This is Nabhomudra, the destroyer of diseases for yogis.”
These ancient texts of several millennia reveal to us the secret of breathing and the direction to take: breathe less. It is a question of restriction, control, and certainly not to breathe more and hyperventilate.
Yogis have always known that to relieve stress and eliminate anxiety at the source itself, to say at the level of the reptilian brain, it is necessary to calm one’s breathing, to soothe it as much as possible, even to stop it from time to time as is the case sometimes in meditation.
The secret of yogis to destroy stress and anxiety is therefore to breathe less, ie more calmly and more slowly.
Totally eliminate the hyperventilation and palpitation that are the automatic and unconscious responses of the reptilian brain to stress.
Exercise of anti-stress breathing
By controlling your reptilian brain through breathing, you can quickly decrease or even eliminate your stress and anxiety (by preventing hyperventilation).
So you can start right now by observing your breathing.
Sit comfortably and simply watch your breath.
Do not try to control anything!
At first, let your body do it, let your reptilian brain manage your breathing for the moment …
On each exhalation, try to relax more and more, to relax inside …
By quietly stretching your exhalation (without straining), you breathe less and more calmly. Indeed, as you slightly emphasize the expiration, you inhale less …
This gradually lengthens your breath and makes you enter a state of relaxation.
This simple exercise can already relax you quickly.
Observe and slightly emphasize the exhalation while relaxing …
Here is !
But there are MUCH more powerful exercises to regain control of your reptilian brain.
Training in stress management
I personally developed a method that I named Intermittent Breathing. It’s the most powerful breathing technique I have for managing your stress and anxiety.
I know what I mean for being very sick when I was a teenager and young adult: generalized anxiety, severe depression, burn-out and adrenal exhaustion, chronic fatigue, daily anxiety attacks, negative and obsessive thoughts, short I lived a real hell!
In a few months, everything has disappeared completely and my body and mind have been able to regenerate to allow me to return to a perfectly normal, serene, peaceful, happy, without any physical or mental health problems.
How did I do?
I just applied the secret of the powerful yogis: control your breathing to breathe less but better.
I practiced Intermittent Breathing for several hours a day and my life quickly changed.
Intermittent Breathing is the technique presented in the very first module of the complete STRESS.app! This anti-stress breathing technique is just the beginning of a great adventure that will allow you to regain your calm and serenity everyday, whatever the external circumstances.