I just finished reading The Healing Power of the Breath by Richard P Brown & Patricia L Gerbarg.
Excellent book. It’s about using the breath to reduce stress and anxiety. Included in the book is a CD to help you learn the different techniques and the timing of the breath. Five breaths per minute is the recommended rate for maximum healing results.
I’ve been doing a 20 minute breath exercise twice a day for the last couple weeks. I can’t say whether I find that I’m feeling any different – because I am already a regular meditator – but I have found that over the last couple weeks, when I’m feeling anxious or nervous, it is calming to focus on my breath and bring it to the 5 breaths per minute range.
It has also been helpful with my gallbladder attacks. I find when I get an attack, some mindful breathing helps keep the pain manageable until the pain meds kick in.
One of their techniques they teach as part of their ‘complete breath’ is basically yoga Ujjayi breathing. It’s also called ‘ocean breath’ because you make a slight sound at the back of your throat. This is what Wiki has to say about it:
According to Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who taught the creators of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Iyengar Yoga and others, Ujjayi Pranayama is a balancing and calming breath which increases oxygenation and builds internal body heat. The Hawaiian yoga teacher Wai Lana says Ujjayi Pranayama “tones the lungs and encourages the free and healthy flow of prana”, while helping to regulate blood pressure and bringing oxygen to all parts of the lungs.”
It’s a good book. I highly recommend it. Easy to read. Easy to understand. Easy to implement in small doses into your life.