Breathing: Breathing (or ventilation) is the process of moving air into and out of the lungs to facilitate gas exchange with the internal environment, mostly by bringing in oxygen and flushing out carbon dioxide.
Breathing Exercise: If you’re interested in trying breathing exercises to reduce stress or anxiety, or improve your lung function, we’ve got 10 different ones to sample. You may find that certain exercises appeal to you right away. Start with those so that the practice is more enjoyable.
How to add breathing exercises to your day:
Breathing exercises don’t have to take a lot of time out of your day. It’s really just about setting aside some time to pay attention to your breathing. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Begin with just 5 minutes a day, and increase your time as the exercise becomes easier and more comfortable.
- If 5 minutes feels too long, start with just 2 minutes.
- Practice multiple times a day. Schedule set times or practice conscious breathing as you feel the need.
1. Pursed lip breathing:
This simple breathing technique makes you slow down your pace of breathing by having you apply deliberate effort in each breath.
You can practice pursed lip breathing at any time. It may be especially useful during activities such as bending, lifting, or stair climbing. Practice using this breath 4 to 5 times a day when you begin in order to correctly learn the breathing pattern.
- Diaphragmatic breathing
Belly breathing can help you use your diaphragm properly. Do belly breathing exercises when you’re feeling relaxed and rested. Practice diaphragmatic breathing for 5 to 10 minutes
To do it:
- Lie on your back with your knees slightly bent and your head on a pillow.
- You may place a pillow under your knees for support.
- Place one hand on your upper chest and one hand below your rib cage, allowing you to feel the movement of your diaphragm.
- Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling your stomach pressing into your hand.
- Keep your other hand as still as possible.
- Exhale using pursed lips as you tighten your stomach muscles, keeping your upper hand completely still.
- Breath focus technique
This deep breathing technique uses imagery or focus words and phrases.
You can choose a focus word that makes you smile, feel relaxed, or that is simply neutral to think about. Examples include peace, let go, or relax, but it can be any word that suits you to focus on and repeat through your practice.
To do it:
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable place.
- Bring your awareness to your breaths without trying to change how you’re breathing.
- Alternate between normal and deep breaths a few times. Notice any differences between normal breathing and deep breathing. Notice how your abdomen expands with deep inhalations.
- Note how shallow breathing feels compared to deep breathing.
- Practice your deep breathing for a few minutes.
- Place one hand below your belly button, keeping your belly relaxed, and notice how it rises with each inhale and falls with each exhale.
- Let out a loud sigh with each exhale.
- Begin the practice of breath focus by combining this deep breathing with imagery and a focus word or phrase that will support relaxation.
- You can imagine that the air you inhale brings waves of peace and calm throughout your body. Mentally say, “Inhaling peace and calm.”
- Imagine that the air you exhale washes away tension and anxiety. You can say to yourself, “Exhaling tension and anxiety.”
- Lion’s breath
Lion’s breath is an energizing yoga breathing practice that is said to relieve tension in your chest and face.It’s also known in yoga as Lion’s Pose or simhasana in Sanskrit.
To do this:
- Come into a comfortable seated position. You can sit back on your heels or cross your legs.
- Press your palms against your knees with your fingers spread wide.
- Inhale deeply through your nose and open your eyes wide.
- At the same time, open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue, bringing the tip down toward your chin.
- Contract the muscles at the front of your throat as you exhale out through your mouth by making a long “ha” sound.
- You can turn your gaze to look at the space between your eyebrows or the tip of your nose.
- Do this breath 2 to 3 times.
- Alternate nostril breathing
Alternate nostril breathing, known as nadi shodhana pranayama in Sanskrit, is a breathing practice for relaxation. Alternate nostril breathing has been shown to enhance cardiovascular function and to lower heart rate. Nadi shodhana is best practiced on an empty stomach. Avoid the practice if you’re feeling sick or congested. Keep your breath smooth and even throughout the practice.
To do this:
- Choose a comfortable seated position.
- Lift up your right hand toward your nose, pressing your first and middle fingers down toward your palm and leaving your other fingers extended.
- After an exhale, use your right thumb to gently close your right nostril.
- Inhale through your left nostril and then close your left nostril with your right pinky and ring fingers.
- Release your thumb and exhale out through your right nostril.
- Inhale through your right nostril and then close this nostril.
- Release your fingers to open your left nostril and exhale through this side.
- This is one cycle.
- Continue this breathing pattern for up to 5 minutes.
- Finish your session with an exhale on the left side.