Regular training should help one to manage ongoing stress and handle anxiety when it arises. However, if currently experiencing stress and anxiety then it is more advisable to begin any breathwork practice with simple but effective breathing exercises (see our articles on Breath for Anxiety and the different Ratio-Breath Exercises ) that initially reduce the burden of stress by aiding robustness (1). A regular training breathwork practice (Quad-Ratio Breath Exercise ) takes this further to develop greater stress resilience through improved autonomic functioning.
Typical recommendations to do “nostril breath” or “box breath” are minimally effective as it is the decrease in efficiency of one’s respiratory function over time that leads most people into trouble with stress and anxiety and eventually more susceptible to respiratory illness. The system is just not robust enough. Superficial “nostril breathing” is not sufficient alone to increase robustness and enhance resilience. A comprehensive approach advises dedicated, regular breathwork practice, ideally daily, to increase respiration efficiency through the anatomical and physiological effects of regulated breath training. This training follows specific breathing exercises and develops further into yogic breath techniques broadly termed under pranayama Though there is a count in terms of the number of seconds to the length of each breath more important is the ratio the inhalation and exhalation are carried out in and that the length of breath with ratio is consistent across several repeated rounds of breathing. This allows the individual practitioner to select a length of breath appropriate to their capacity and not be limited to generic advice that states a fixed count for all, such as 5-7-8, for inhale-retain-exhale.