Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

Simple breathing techniques that can help kids and young adults manage stress

Nasal breathing, slow rechaka and toning are 3 techniques students can use to reduce the harmful effects of stress.

Nasal breathing

One of the most powerful remedies inside the inner pharmacy is nasal breathing.

When we are stressed, we tend to breathe too quickly and inhale the mouth. This is especially common for kids. This stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, producing stress hormones and preparing us to fight or take flight. When we habitually breathe through the mouth, we over-breathe, overstimulate the sympathetic nervous system and remain chronically overstimulated – creating anxiety.

Just reminding your kid to breath through the nose can support his nervous system in regulating the stress response.

Rechaka technique

In pranayama, rechaka stands for extended exhalation. Nasal breathing combined with an extended exhalation helps to lower the heart rate, reduce anxiety and calm the mind.

Extended exhalation helps to balance carbon dioxide and nitric oxide levels. That has powerful anti-anxiety properties, expanding blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and has an all-over soothing effect on the body.

Tone chanting

Another type of extended exhalation from pranayama is the chanting of ‘aum’ by putting an emphasis on the 3 syllables of A-U-M. It switches on the parasympathetic nervous system and switches off the sympathetic – calming the hypothalamus, toning the vagus nerve and activating the pineal gland. Teachers could ask their excited students to repeat this technique several times in order to calm down.

In California, for example, from the beginning of 2019 children are taught how to meditate and breathing exercises for mental health after almost 1,000 teachers have undergone training to learn mindfulness.

When we are feeling very stressed or anxious, our breath rate rises, our heart beat becomes more erratic and the distance between each beat varies wildly. A signal is sent up our vagus nerve to the brain, actually inhibiting brain function. It is not only our heartbeat that becomes erratic and incoherent – our thoughts become erratic and incoherent too. It can be very frustrating for pupils during exams and important tests.

Ancient practices of yoga and pranayama gifted us with a tool for overcoming this kind of response. Through practicing smooth, rhythmic breathing and eliminating the pause between each breath we can override the body’s natural response to stress and maintain a more consistent pattern in our HRV (heart rate variability). This will bring students into a state of greater heart coherence and their thoughts and bodily functions will follow suit. 

Finally, students also can combine nasal breathing and an extended exhale with smooth, rhythmic breathing by inhaling for a count of 4 and exhaling for a count of 8 – eliminating the pause between each breath. This way their heartbeat will not skyrocket and become erratic. They will remain in a state of greater coherence, stay calm, think clearly and navigate the situation more easily.

Niraj Naik is an ex-pharmacist turned holistic health expert, founder of international school of breathwork Soma Breath. After working for several years as a community pharmacist, Niraj saw firsthand just how ineffective and even damaging pharmaceutical drugs can be. When he found himself a patient of stress-related depression and ulcerative colitis, he embarked on a journey of profound self healing and education.

Known internationally as the Renegade Pharmacist, Niraj is dedicated to educating others on topics of holistic health, breathwork, meditation, and

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