I love the 4-7-8 method of breathing. Take a deep breath in on a count of 4 seconds; hold the breath for 7 seconds; and fully exhale the breath on a count of 8 seconds. I always tell the patient to start slow. First block a period of time in your schedule . For example 15 minutes twice a week are carved into your busy schedule. You will only start to the do the 4-7-8 breathing for 3 minutes out of the 15 minutes. Every week we increase the 4-7-8 breathing technique by 1 minute. In 12 weeks you will now have 15 minute of 4-7-8 breathing
Another simple introductory method of breathing is called Coherent Breathing (CD) I suggest
www.coherence.com The individual follows paced breathing at 5 breaths per minute thus allowing a gentle relaxation. I ask a patient to do 10 minutes twice a day.
Many breathing technique are used in the Practice of Yoga. One of the Five Principles of Yoga is Pranayama or Breathing Exercise which promotes proper breathing. Proper Breathing, in a Yogic point of view, is to bring more oxygen to the blood and to the brain, and to control prana or the vital life energy. A type of breathing called Ujjayi Breathing also called loud breathing is very effective for anxiety issues.
Ujjayi strengthens the nervous and digestive systems and gets rid of the phlegm. I find it best to learn this breathing in a Yoga class. This alternate nostril breathing can be difficult especially for the elderly population. There are many senior centers which now offer Yoga to the ever-growing older population. It is hard to describe how to perform this method of breathing.
Below is a textbook description of the type of breathing. I would encourage to look on line for a video showing how to perform Ujjayi breathing ( Loud breathing). Those who practice Loud breathing have a immediate sense of well-being and calmness within 5 - 10 minutes of doing this technique. This technique was taught to those who were present at the World Trade Center disaster. It has been used for Post traumatic stress disorder patients.
This consists in drawing air in through both nostrils with the glottis held partially closed. Ujjayi translates as "what clears the throat and masters the chest area." This partial closure of the glottis produces a sound like that heard in sobbing, except that it is continuous and unbroken. The sound should have a low but uniform pitch and be pleasant to hear. Friction of air in the nose should be avoided; consequently no nasal sounds will be heard. A prolonged full pause should begin, without any jerking, as soon as Inhalation has been completed. Closure of glottis, use of chin lock and closure of both nostrils are standard. Prolong the pause as long as possible; but it should be terminated and exhalation commenced smoothly and slowly. When properly performed, exhalation proceeds slowly and steadily through the left nostril with the glottis partially closed as in inhalation. One may begin to exhale with release of air pressure by lifting the finger from his left nostril, loosening his chin lock and then partially opening his glottis. Exhalation should be complete.
One of my goals for the New Year is to explore other Yoga Practices.