On Wednesday, I discussed the negative affects stress has on our breath and bodies. Did you know that your breath can help you shift your stress in as little as 3 minutes? Starting today, it is time to realize the potential of oxygen!

By doing so, you can begin soothing your nervous system, eliminating stress, boost your brain power and improve the energy in every system of your body.

It only takes 3 minutes of abdominal breathing to have more resilience, power and enhanced recovery time.


1) Lie down on your back with your knees bent, soles of the feet flat on the floor.

2) Rest your hands on your abdomen (if lying on the floor causes pain, lie in bed or on another soft surface, such as the sofa)

3) Close your eyes and become still.

4) Inhale and exhale through your nose.

5) Allow the belly to deliberately rise with each inhale and fall with each exhale. Focus on actively inhaling and passively exhaling.

6) Continue with the abdominal thoracic breath: inhaling for 4 counts, holding the breath at the top of inhale for 4 counts and exhaling for 4 counts.

7) Continue to silently breathe, using the ratio 4-4-4  for 3 minutes

Welcome to your brain powered by oxygen. This is the “nature’s high” that will immediately make you feel calmer, more restored and balanced from the inside out.

Check out the video below where I specifically share 3 major mind-body practices that will help you stay healthy, active and emotionally centred, no matter what is happening in your life.


Learn more about stress relief with Yoga Tune Up®.

Tune down your stress with Quickfix online videos.

If you like this article, read Abdominal Breathing for Better Living

Dagmar Khan

Dagmar Khan is the 1st Integrated Yoga Tune Up® teacher in Europe and leading mobility expert in whole Ireland; with over 15 years of experience in Yoga, Pilates, Stress Management and Fitness. She is sought-after core-expert who specializes in helping people overcome physical roadblocks and rehabilitate from serious injuries, such as spinal problems, hip replacements, osteoporosis and arthritis. Dagmar has worked with 1000’s of people and has created successful Yoga Tune Up® programs for athletic clubs, colleges, and university lecturers in sport and medical doctors. Dagmar is the creator of INJURY FREE RUNNING program for the Solas Run For Life, a contributing fitness expert to Beat 102 103 & Waterford Today, and her work has been featured on Dublin City FM, WLR FM, Munster Express and Waterford News & Star. For more information visit www.dagmarkhan.com

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John Watson

Great to see this post. This is now my morning routine. What a great way to start each day.


Simple and perfectly explained! thank you! de mystifying breath work will break down so many of the barriers I sense in clients new to yoga. Keep it simple, accessible, and relevant!


Nice reminder to find peace in this stressful world, and it doesn’t take long. I can feel some benefits of this 3 minutes practice as you say oxygenation of the brain very important, reduce of the stress hormones, relax the body and mind, be in the present moment.
I enjoy reading this article!

Audrey Ventura

I’m a culprit of not taking time for myself especially when things are crazy. Thank you for a great reminder of a few ways that I can take care of myself and also some simple advice for my clients to destress.


Ça me fait penser les première fois que je faisais cet exercice, comment le 4-4-4 en 3 minutes était un défi pour moi. Il m’arrivait d’avoir l’impression de manquer d’air. Et bien évidemment, plus j’étais stressée ou dans une période plus difficile ou active, plus la rétention du souffle avait tendance à me donner du retord. De fois en fois, c’est devenu plus accessible et c’est encore un truc que j’utilise pour me détendre lorsque nécessaire! C’est bien de se le rappeler : )

Camille Corrivault-Gascon

C’est tellement simple comme technique mais il faut connaître son existence et la pratiquer. Merci pour l’explication claire et ce rappel pour nous permettre de réduire notre stress quotidien. 3 minutes dans une journée ce n’est pas grand chose et cela apporte tellement de bienfaits alors take a big breath and become more and more relax 🙂


Thank you for the reminder. It is so simple and yet so powerful. Going to take the next three minutes to deal with stress.

Sue Paterson

I love that you broke down your previous blog even more clearly for those ‘sympathetic-system’ junkies out there… seems self-explanatory, but for those who need it most, it’s not. I find that after rushing around, my first few minutes on the mat at yoga, I need to utilize your 4-4 breath pattern just to reintroduce myself to my breath, and calm the heck down! I am trying to work with this more often, and give those secondary breathing muscles a break. Thanks for shining the spotlight on our own cost-effective way to have power over our self-induced craziness.

Alisa Fairbanks

This 3-minute 4-4-4 breathing practice is something I use from time-to-time (mainly when I feel restless at night), but it’s challenging for me. I have a hard time doing it long enough for the full therapeutic benefits to kick-in, but I recognize that this is part of the process. I tend to find breathing techniques challenging overall, but understand the importance and benefits. That’s why I keep working on it!

Dagmar Khan

@Mindy- I am so grateful that both the article and video has spoken to you in such a profound way. I honor self-care, and I trust that self-care is the biggest gift we can ever give to ourselves.

Mindy Micheli

I loved this article and video in which Dagmar addressed the universal problem of being overstressed, and, perhaps even more destabilizing to one’s wellness, when you are unsure of how to effectively manage yourself when this occurs. I found the 4-4-4 technique of abdominal-thoracic breathing for 3 minutes to be so effective. I really appreciated her very succinct instruction on the needed time frame to accomplish the resultant desired outcome; and found her caring and sensitive mannerisms in advising and educating on this common malady to be incredibly inspiring and instructive for myself, in my relationship with my dearly cherished… Read more »


@Lulu- yes, this is a perfect preparation for good night sleep. Sweet dreams!

Lulu Goodman

I am always looking for breathing exercises to use as stress relief. I also teach them to my children. With only 3 minutes to commit to, who has an excuse? I’m going to do these right now as I prepare to sleep.


I thought that to calm the nervous system we should do the opposite, to reduce the oxygen by concentrating on exhalations, making them longer then inhalations and holding the breath after each exhale. The same effect as breathing in the paper bag.
Lack of oxygen calms the nervous system and reduce the heart rate. Excess of oxygen – stimulates. All kinds of forward bends are also good to calm down and release the stress,, when back bends – to give a punch of energy.

Julia Lamm

very detailed instructions – I just did this sequence to help me calm down and reduce stress in my body. After 5 minutes of doing this exercise, I felt more grounded and more balance. It is amazing how paying attention to our breath resets the nervous system. I drive a lot so I try to practice my breath awareness at traffic lights. This way, i am a calmer driver as well.


Staying connected to my breathing is very challenging for me outside of my yoga or pilates practise. There is just so much going on in my day! Having a rutine in which I deliberately make same sapce for myself to almost force myself into being consious of my breathing is absolutely essential!

Emily Pantalone

My roommate tends towards high stress and anxiety (as do I) and ever since I passed my yoga teacher certification she’s been on my case to make her little podcasts or videos of things she can do to calm herself down…in like ten minutes or under. Even though she knows a lot of the breathing techniques and poses (I yoga her quite frequently) I know it always helps to have someone else – even a video – taking charge and telling you what to do for a few minutes. I can’t wait to send this to her!!


I love this! I’ve recently realized that at random points during the day, I will catch myself holding my breath. Definitely not healthy and I need to practice my breathing! I tried doing this this morning and it was incredibly calming. Definitely useful for this grad student going into finals…!

Betsy Bell

Thank you for this article! For those of us that sit at computers all day staring into the screen, our breathing becomes so shallow and focusing on the screen creates tension in the eyes as well. Setting a reminder to do a few minutes of Abdominal-Thoracic breathing with eyes closed every hour could be a great ritual to quiet down the the nervous system and at the same time energize and balance the body, mind and emotions. I have been playing with Coregeous Ball with the breathing techniques- Fantastic!

Dagmar Khan

So glad the blog spoke to you Dawn. There is very powerful medicine living right under neath of our nostrils:)

Dawn Mauricio

Just reading this blog post got me relaxed 🙂 Abdominal-Thoracic breathing is one of my favorite pranayama techniques, and it is a sure-fire way to get me grounded. I sometimes like to stir up my practice with a Reverse Yogic Complete Breath. Changing up my breathing techniques every now and then helps anchor my mind even more for those times it’s especially busy.

Caroline Meyer

There are times in every day that I feel stressed and limit my breath, I know it’s happening, I don’t want to feel, I want the moment to pass. I often don’t have the discipline regularly meditate, and even in my yoga practice, I lose my breath from time to time. Taking just a few minutes to do such a simple and straightforward exercise will definitely add minutes to my life. Thanks for breaking it down so simple.


Dagmar, This is a great reminder. It seams that when life gets stressful the first thing we do is stop taking care of ourselves. 3 minutes is a reasonable amount of time to take for selfcare. This has been a great reminder for me while in the city where things are faster passed and more chaotic.


Aotea Yoga

Thank you for this stimulating article. It will really helps to distress in 3 minutes.

Amelia Jones

I agree, stress is a major problem that affects the mind and body, By taking the necessary steps to free your mind from stress, it will be easier to recharge and be capable of facing your daily activities. Thanks for sharing those must-try steps to free the nervous system from stress. 🙂