Introduction: Breathe In, Breathe Out
Nowadays it’s all too common that we’ll find ourselves rushing around, stressing ourselves out to the point of no return. Have you ever felt so panicked that it felt like you couldn’t breathe?
Sometimes there is a bigger problem at hand that needs to be fixed, but you might be surprised at how much learning a breathing technique can help you in situations like these.
We know what you’re thinking – that a breathing exercise isn’t going to help you quell the nerves for your test or meeting.
However, we think that you’ll be pleased with the results if you’re willing to put the effort into trying it for yourself. And, as you’re on our article, it must mean that you’re ready to give it a go.
Stress doesn’t just make you feel uneasy, it can actually be detrimental to your health. High blood pressure can come from prolonged periods of stress, and your immune system can also be suppressed.
This means that not only will you be worrying about an event coming up, but you also might have to endure it while sick.
Relaxation techniques are one of the easiest, most effective, and inexpensive ways to calm your mind. So, before you shell out on expensive hypnotherapy and other stress relief medications, why don’t you humor us and give it a go?
Today we’re going to be looking at why breathing exercises are good for you, the benefits of learning to breathe correctly, and a list of breathing exercises for you to try at home.
By the end of our article, we’re hoping that your stress levels will be down and you’ll be feeling more calm and relaxed than ever. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
Why Are Breathing Exercises Good For You?
Breathing is a fact of life – we breathe without even noticing it. In fact, we normally breathe up to 20 times a minute! But it doesn’t affect our lives or tasks because we’re so used to doing it.
However, we think that we take breathing for granted. Everyone is guilty of doing so, but we need to appreciate it more often.
Have you ever noticed that when you focus on your breathing you can feel more relaxed? This is because your brain is focused on something monotonous rather than any stressful situation that is currently occupying your mind.
You might even be able to notice how your breathing changes while you’re noticing it.
If this is how your body reacts when you simply take note of your usual breathing, imagine how it would react if you were to incorporate breathing techniques into your life?
Breathing techniques can help you to relax and calm yourself down when you’re worked up about something.
Life events that you’re getting ready for, a stressful situation at work, or getting ready to speak in front of a crowd are among the reasons why people get so stressed on a daily basis.
75% of adults feel moderate to high levels of stress every month, and this could be helped with regular breathing exercises.
We’re not saying that learning a breathing technique is going to magically wipe away all of your stress or lessen the effects of a panic disorder.
Extreme stress can be managed with the help of professionals, not only inhaling and exhaling in a certain way.
However, many people have found success with breathing techniques like the ones that we have listed below.
We are included, as we have found that breathing exercises have helped us to manage our anxiety until our trigger is behind us.
So, if you are feeling anxious, stressed, worried, frustrated, or angry – you might just benefit from learning a breathing exercise.
They’re very simple and quick to learn and you can repeat them as many times as you personally need.
What Are The Benefits Of Breathing Properly?
There are so many benefits that come along with breathing properly, and you might be surprised at how many aspects of your life can be improved with breathing.
For example, breathing doesn’t just benefit you mentally and emotionally, but also physically as well.
Benefits of breathing properly
As you can see, there are plenty of benefits of breathing exercises. Lots of aspects of your health and wellbeing will be improved by learning one or two techniques that you can use in your daily life.
The history of breathing is an interesting one, with its symbolizing life, energy, and power in Buddhism and Hinduism.
They created the art of meditation, a practice that centers around breathing and self-awareness. It is said to offer peace and self-satisfaction to anyone who practices it.
Buddhists and Hindus believe that breathing is an essential part of improving the quality of your life. They believe that you can feel inner peace, find relaxation and enlightenment, and remove negative thoughts from your mind.
Flash forward from 5,000 BCE when meditation was created, it is still a large part of many people’s lives today.
There are so many benefits to gain from breathing properly, so what are you waiting for? Get started today and explore the positive results for yourself.
Types Of Breathing: A Breakdown Of Breathing Types
In its simplest form, breathing is inhaling and expelling air from the lungs. Every human, animal, and other living thing breathes in one way or another, and there are many different types of breathing rather than just one.
While we could go into incredible detail about how plants absorb oxygen through their leaves, we think we best just leave it at humans for now.
There are four types of breathing that we’re going to look at, all of which we do on a daily basis. How amazing is it that our bodies change between types of breathing without us even knowing or noticing?
First up is eupnea breathing, which occurs when we are resting. We don’t think about this breathing type and it is otherwise known as quiet breathing.
During eupnea, the diaphragm and external intercostal muscles need to contract. We breathe this way while we are sleeping or at our most rested.
The diaphragm contracts during this type of breathing, which is where the informative name comes from.
Otherwise known as deep breathing, the air is expelled from the lungs only when the diaphragm relaxes.
Diaphragmatic breathing is often used in breathing exercises and therefore the most common type that you’ll see during our list of breathing exercises.
Costal breathing uses the intercostal muscles to contract as air is inhaled.
This breathing type is otherwise known as shallow breathing and is referred to as the opposite of diaphragmatic breathing.
As the intercostal muscles relax air can be expelled from the lungs.
Hyperpnea is the type of breathing that is used during exercise and singing, as well as other activities in which breathing needs to be manipulated.
It is otherwise known as forced breathing and both inhalation and exhalation occur due to contracting muscles.
There are plenty of muscles in the chest and neck that need to be used in order to use hyperpnea successfully.
This breathing technique can also be seen in some of the breathing exercises that we list below.
Complete List Of Breathing Exercises You Can Do At Home
Now we’ve moved onto the bit you’ve all been waiting for, the breathing exercises that you can try out for yourself. What’s more, you don’t even have to leave your home to do them – you can actually try one out right now!
Below we’ve got 13 breathing exercises that you can practice. They’re designed to help your body reduce the amount of stress and anxiety you’re feeling as well as improving your lung function.
You might not get along with all of the exercises, but you only really need one or two that are going to help you.
Using your breathing techniques
Remembering how to properly carry out your favorite breathing exercise can help you whenever you feel as though you’re getting stressed or worried.
Out in public, at work, or even at home, take a moment to yourself and practice your breathing.
It is advised that you take either two or five minutes to yourself to practice your breathing exercise. Get into a routine of practicing every day for two to five-minute increments.
You might find that you prefer to use your technique multiple times a day rather than just one.
Breathing exercises to try
Simple and easy to do, takes your mind off stress.
Beginners need to practice lying down.
It can remove toxins and stress from your body.
Best to practice only in the comfort of your own home.
Breath focus technique
Tailor your own practice with this popular and successful technique.
Requires up to 20 minutes of your day.
Usable anywhere without drawing attention to yourself. Reduces symptoms of depression.
Not everyone gets along with this technique as it can be too simple and boring.
Simple and easy to do anywhere. Calms and relieves stress and eases shortness of breath.
Make sure that you don’t count to five too slowly to get the most out of the exercise.
Easy to do and will focus your mind on breathing rather than what’s worrying you.
Some people choose a number too high so that it is not maintainable.
A fun and new breathing technique with plenty of benefits.
Not everyone can curl their tongue.
Pursed lip breathing
You can practice pursed-lip breathing anywhere. It improves the quality of your breaths.
It can be difficult how long you have to count while breathing in and out.
Humming bee breath (bhramari)
Releases tension, stress, and anxiety. Said to relieve pain from headaches.
Humming might disturb people around you.
Alternate nostril breathing
Lots of benefits come from alternate nostril breathing, such as lowering your heart rate.
Makes some users feel sick if they practice on a full stomach.
You can complete the exercise anywhere and it is very effective.
Can take some getting used to controlling exhalation.
Difficult enough to take your mind off anything that might be worrying you.
Some people experience dizziness when they first begin roll breathing.
Great way to start the morning, loosening the muscles and clearing airways.
Bending forward from the waist might not be very comfortable for some people.
Belly breathing is a technique that we personally find works amazingly well.
As you first start to practice belly breathing, you might begin to feel tired.
However, try to persevere and it will get much easier.
For the best results, you should practice belly breathing three to four times a day for at least five minutes.
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent slightly. Your head can be on a pillow for comfort.
- Place a hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
- Slowly inhale through your nose and take note of how your stomach presses on your hand.
- Exhale through your mouth and feel how your stomach muscles tighten.
This technique allows you to focus on your breathing rather than stressful thoughts. You can teach yourself how to do this while sitting up as well, but it might take some time and practice.
The next technique is one of which is commonly used in yoga practice, specifically targeting tension in your face and chest.
Other names for this technique are Lion’s Pose or Simhasana.
There are plenty of variations for this pose, one of which we detail below.
- fingers spread wide.
- Inhale through the nose and widen your eyes.
3. Once it’s time to exhale, widen your mouth with your tongue sticking out and breathe out, making a loud and long ‘ha’ sound.
4. Repeat this three to four times.
You can use this breathing exercise anywhere you like, although you might feel a bit silly doing it out in public. Breathing out in such a way makes you feel prideful like a lion and removes toxins and stress from your body.
Breath focus technique
Next up, this breathing exercise focused on specific words, phrases, and imagery.
By choosing words and images that make you feel happy and relaxed, you can ensure that all the negative emotions and thoughts are kept at bay.
Popular words to use are such as ‘peace’ and ‘relax’.
10 to 20-minute sessions of the breath focus technique are best and will help you feel calmer for longer.
- Sit or lie down wherever you feel comfortable.
- Become aware of how you are breathing at the moment.
- Play around with your breathing, taking in deep breaths from time to time. Notice how your body and posture change as you alternate between different types of breathing.
- Now take only deep breaths, still focusing on how the body is moving. You can put a hand on your stomach to see how it rises and falls.
- Let out a large sigh every time you breathe out.
- Bring in the peaceful words and imagery as you breathe. Imagine that you’re inhaling the positive feelings and exhaling the negative thoughts.
As you breathe in, you can tell yourself that you’re ‘inhaling relaxation and peace’. When exhaling, say ‘I’m removing toxins and negativity’. You can tailor your practice to your current life situation and spend as much time on it as possible.
This is a simple breathing technique that requires you to complete five full breaths every minute.
Sounds difficult, but there is an easy way to ensure that you’re doing it correctly.
We have found this technique to be effective and usable wherever you are – at work, home, or out in the community.
1.Inhale through your nose while counting to five.
2. Exhale through your mouth while counting to five.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for a few minutes until you feel calmer.
Coherent breathing maximizes your heart rate variability and can reduce stress. There was also a study that showed it to be able to reduce symptoms associated with depression.
Deep breathing is similar to coherent breathing in its technique, and it is used to ensure that fresh air can get into your lungs.
People who suffer from shortness of breath will find this exercise helpful as it also prevents air from getting trapped in your lungs.
- Draw your elbows back slightly, allowing your chest to become bigger.
- Inhale deeply through the nose.
- Hold your breath while you count to five – not too fast!
- Allow the breath to escape through your mouth slowly.
People who suffer from panic disorders and anxiety might make the most out of this exercise as often shortness of breath can panic them more. Deep breathing is also excellent at reducing stress and clearing your mind of worrisome thoughts.
Equal breathing is a fun technique that can be used anywhere, but it is most commonly used in yoga practices.
The exercise requires you to make your inhales and exhales the exact same length.
This keeps your breathing steady so that you don’t become overwhelmed.
1.Inhale and exhale through your nose.
2. Choose a number and count to it while you breathe in and out. This allows you to know your breathing is equal. You can also choose a word to think of while you’re breathing in and out.
3. Natural breathing involves a small pause between breaths, so feel free to add this in before each exhale.
4. Continue for five to 10 minutes.
As you can see, equal breathing is similar to coherent and deep breathing exercises. However, you can tailor how long you breathe in and out for.
You shouldn’t choose a number too difficult as it will be harder to maintain. Focusing on ensuring that your breathing is equal will take your mind off of a stressful situation.
Another yoga practice now, sitali breath helps to lower your body temperature and keep you in a relaxed state of mind.
It focuses on slightly extending your breathing but not so much that will become uncomfortable.
This technique requires you to only breathe in through your mouth.
1.Sit comfortably and stick your tongue out. Curl the edges up so that they are touching each other.
2. You can purse your lips instead if you cannot curl your tongue.
3. Inhale through your mouth and exhale through your nose.
4. Continue this breathing exercise for five to 10 minutes.
If you don’t know how to curl your tongue, you can still use this technique.
Pursing your lips in lieu of this still works, although the technique might not be as effective as if you were to use the original premise.
Pursed lip breathing
If you cannot curl your tongue to complete the sitali breathing technique, perhaps the pursed-lip breathing exercise is a better option.
This technique slows your breathing and improves the quality of your breaths as you have to be aware of your breathing and put effort into doing so.
You can use this technique four to five times a day so that you get plenty of practice.
1.Sit comfortably and relax your head and shoulders.
2. Inhale through your nose slowly while you count to two. Make sure that your mouth remains closed.
3. Purse your lips as though you’re about to whistle and exhale for four counts through your mouth.
Pursed lip breathing is most commonly used during workouts when you need to exhale on the hardest part of the exercise you’re conducting. However, you can practice this anywhere to slow your breathing and calm your mind.
Humming bee breath (bhramari)
The humming bee breath technique is another popular yoga practice to create a calm feeling almost instantly.
It is used to soothe headaches, anger, and anxiety.
You will be making a humming sound during this exercise, so you’ll likely want to leave this technique until you’re in the comfort of your own home.
1.Close your eyes and relax your face as much as possible.
2. Place your first fingers on your tragus cartilage. This is the flap of cartilage that partially covers your ear canals.
3. Inhale and exhale, pressing your fingers into the tragus as much as is comfortable.
4. As you’re breathing out, keep your mouth closed and release a loud humming sound.
5. Continue for as long as you can while it still feels comfortable.
The tragus has long been associated with soothing headaches and stress, so it stands to reason why this breathing exercise would be so effective.
Alternate nostril breathing
This technique is otherwise known as nadi shodhana pranayama in Sanskrit, and it is known for promoting relaxation.
There are plenty of benefits that come from alternate nostril breathing, including improving cardiovascular function and lowering your heart rate.
1.Hold your hand close to your nose. Press your first and second finger down to the palm of your hand. This will feel uncomfortable until you get into the proper position.
2. Exhale and then close one nostril with your thumb.
3. Inhale through the open nostril and then close the nostril with your third and fourth fingers.
4. Remove your thumb and inhale through the other nostril. Close the nostril with your thumb again.
5. Remove your fingers and exhale through the other nostril. Close the nostril again.
6. Continue this pattern for up to five minutes.
7. Your practice should end with an exhale.
While alternate nostril breathing seems difficult when you read the steps above, putting it into practice makes it seem easier. Once you get the hang of it, you won’t need to think about what you’re doing.
It’s recommended that you only use this technique on an empty stomach so that you don’t begin feeling sick or congested.
This breathing exercise is used to help you relax by focusing on the movements of your stomach as you breathe in and out.
It also requires you to hold your breath and exhale for a long time which might take some getting used to.
However, it can calm you down and slow your heart rate when done properly.
1.Either lying down or sitting in a chair, place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
2. Take a deep inhale in as you count to four in your head.
3. Hold the air in your lungs as you count to seven.
4. Expel the air through your mouth for a count of eight.
5. Repeat for as many times as it takes for you to feel relaxed and calm.
You should try to get all of the air out of your lungs by the end of the eight counts. If you don’t, don’t worry too much and try to improve the next round.
It can be difficult to hold your breath for a count of seven but don’t exhale the air too quickly after this either. The aim is to keep your breathing steady throughout the exercise.
Roll breathing allows you to use every part of your lungs and focus on the rhythm of your breathing.
Did you know that we only use 70% of our lung capacity?
While you’re just starting out with this technique it’s best to learn on your back with your knees bent.
However, once you get used to it you can practice in any position favorable.
- Place your hands on your chest and stomach so that you can notice how your body moves with your breath.
- As you inhale try to have your stomach expand, so that your hand goes up with the breath. Your chest should remain still during this first step. Breathe in through the nose, out through your mouth. Repeat this process 10 times.
- Now that you have practiced breathing into your lower lungs, inhale into them once more. Halfway through; however, stop and continue breathing into your upper lungs so that your chest rises instead of your stomach.
- Exhale through your mouth slowly as you make a small whooshing sound. Your stomach should empty first before your chest does.
- Practice this exercise for three to five minutes at a time.
Once you master the rolling breathing technique you’ll be able to practice standing up and sitting as well as lying down. When done correctly, your chest and stomach should move similar to rolling waves.
Last but not least we have the morning breathing technique, a method used to relieve the body of tension and stiffness first thing in the morning.
You can also use it throughout the day to untense your back muscles.
1.Bend forward from the waist while in a standing position, letting your arms dangle to the floor.
Inhale deeply and slowly, rolling up carefully to an upright position as you do so.
Think of it as stacking one vertebra at a time.
2. Once you’re back in the standing position, hold your breath for a few seconds.
3. Exhale as you bend back over to the original position.
You can continue morning breathing for as long as you need. Most people enjoy using this exercise in the morning right after they get out of bed. As well as loosening the muscles and joints, it can also help to clear clogged breathing passages.
Adding Breathing Exercises Into Your Busy Lifestyle
We know that some of the breathing exercises that we mentioned above require a reasonable amount of time out of your day and that you might not be willing to give this up straight away.
However, we strongly urge you to not give up on your breathing exercise dream just yet.
Embarking on your breathing exercise journey can feel like a big jump, but we’re here to reassure you and say that it is not at all.
There are plenty of ways that you can incorporate breathing techniques into your busy schedule without having to rearrange everything.
Choose one breathing technique and stick to it
We never said that you had to learn every breathing technique on our list – you only really need one that works for you.
We suggest that you make your way down the list and practice each one for yourself once or twice, or until you get a feel for the technique.
There should be one or two that stick out to you, so learn them and forget about all of the others!
What’s best for you?
Do you have time to practice your chosen technique without anyone around – perhaps at home or in the office?
If you’re surrounded by coworkers all day, then you might not be able to take five minutes for yourself.
However, if you have a soundproof office with a door that can be closed, you can take some time to practice.
If you don’t have anywhere private and find yourself too busy at home to sit down for a couple of minutes on your own, you might prefer a technique that you can practice in public.
While it’s entirely possible for you to loudly hum in the middle of a crowd, some people might not be comfortable with doing this.
Choose a breathing exercise that you feel comfortable with and that you can complete on a daily basis, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. This way there is no excuse if you don’t get your practice in.
Practice anywhere and everywhere
Strive to find somewhere that you can be with yourself for five minutes at a time.
If this is not possible, try for two minutes instead. While some techniques call for up to 20 minutes of practice per day, you can break this up into 10 two-minute sessions if you need to.
Breathing techniques offer up the most benefits when you can complete them all in one go, but practicing in small chunks is still better than not doing it at all.
You can practice your exercise almost anywhere – in line at the mall, filling up the car at a gas station, or in a team meeting – so do it!
If you’re really struggling to find a time to fit your breathing exercises in, you might be forgetting the time you spend in bed every day. You can wake up five minutes earlier and practice as soon as you wake up, or you can save them for the last thing you do at night.
Don’t beat yourself up about it
If you don’t manage to get all of your allotted time of breathing exercises done in a day, don’t worry too much and begin again tomorrow.
Don’t give up because you feel as though you don’t have enough time and are not reaping the rewards from practicing, because we promise that you are.
Just because you cannot see progress doesn’t mean that it’s not there.
So, don’t get discouraged and throw in the towel. Remember that practice makes progress and you’re sure to reap the rewards sooner or later.
Work your way up
Like we have mentioned earlier, some people find that having to practice for 20 minutes a day can be rather daunting and off-putting.
However, you don’t need to go full force straight away. Instead, take your time and work slowly towards a final goal.
You can even write up a routine about how you’re going to achieve your length goal in the long run.
Below is an example of how you can plan out your breathing technique routine as well as an alternative that still offers the same results.
2 minutes, once a day
5 minutes, once a day
10 minutes, once a day
15 minutes, once a day
20 minutes, once a day
2 minutes, once a day
2 minutes, three times a day
5 minutes, twice a day
5 minutes, three times a day
5 minutes, four times a day
Conclusion: Taking Your First Breath
Now you know all of the benefits of breathing exercises, what are you waiting for? Learning a new breathing technique is the first point of action for a lot of people who struggle with stress and anxiety in their daily life.
Breathing exercises have been used in meditation for years, with the Buddhists and Hindus first creating the idea.
Breathing is a sign of life and vitality, so don’t take it for granted – there are plenty of rewards that you can experience by taking some time for yourself.
It is so important to set aside some time for yourself to practice your breathing techniques. You can practice your chosen technique whenever and wherever you can – it’s all about choosing the best option for your lifestyle.
If you have a very busy schedule and it seems as though you don’t have any time to yourself, why not try an exercise such as morning breathing or pursed-lip breathing.
Alternatively, if you have ample time or a private space all to yourself, the lion’s breath exercise could be a good option.
With so many benefits from breathing techniques, it’s difficult to know why you haven’t been breathing properly for your entire life. But there’s no time like the present!
So, get a sampling of the different techniques and find the perfect one for you. Once you’ve mastered it, make room for the plethora of rewards you’ll soon be feeling!