Finding Calm Together: The Top 4 Partner Breathing Exercises



No matter how long a couple has been together or how strong their relationship is, there will inevitably be stressors that can pose a threat to their connection. These stressors can be internal, such as job changes or differences in libido, or external, like a struggling economy. While managing stress individually is important, engaging in partner breathing exercises can be a shared mindfulness practice that promotes calmness and builds intimacy.

Mindfulness coach and mental health counselor Jen Johnson, LCMHC, emphasizes the importance of practicing breathing exercises with a partner. According to her, these exercises can remind couples of the feelings of love and care that brought them together in the first place. By being still and focused on each other with kindness, couples can reestablish their connection.

Engaging in partner breathing exercises can also hold couples accountable and help them maintain a mindfulness practice. It doesn’t have to be a time-consuming commitment either. Just spending three to five minutes a day on shared breathwork can have benefits.

When done individually, slow and deep breathing has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood. Practicing these breathing exercises together allows couples to share the benefits of relaxation. As partners relax through measured inhales and exhales, they can feel and benefit from each other’s calm energy.

Focusing on the breath can put individuals in a more mindful state, which has been linked to higher relationship satisfaction. Mindfulness boosts individuals’ ability to respond to stress and regulate emotions, and it also enhances couples’ ability to empathize. Additionally, being mindful can improve a person’s acceptance of their partner’s flaws and perception of their partner as responsive, leading to greater relationship satisfaction.

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Partnered breathwork can increase awareness of emotions for both partners, leading to better communication, empathy, and a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives. A study involving nine couples found that participating in just three breathwork sessions together strengthened their emotional connection, improved communication, and increased their sense of support.

Over time, engaging in partner breathing exercises can improve couples’ ability to regulate their emotions. Clinical psychologist and mindfulness teacher Inna Khazan, PhD, states that partners can become more resilient together. Consistency is key to achieving this benefit. A regular practice trains the nervous system to respond effectively to stressful situations, enabling couples to better face challenging moments.

While almost any breathing exercise can be adapted for couples, there are a few expert-recommended ones. The first is back-to-back 4-7-8 breathing, where partners sit back-to-back and synchronize their breaths. This exercise enhances the feeling of connection and helps maintain breathing in rhythm.

Gratitude breathing is another exercise that allows couples to express appreciation for each other. Direct eye contact during this exercise can lead to a deeper sense of connection and trust.

Heart rate variability breathing involves intentionally breathing at a slower pace to increase heart rate variability. This exercise helps regulate the nervous system, allowing couples to return to a state of calm after stressful situations.

Finally, lovingkindness and compassion breathing fosters compassion within the relationship. It helps partners understand each other during conflicts and validate each other’s emotions.

Incorporating partner breathing exercises into a relationship can bring couples closer together and promote emotional well-being. Whether it’s a few minutes a day or a longer practice, these exercises can be a valuable tool for strengthening connection and managing stress.

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