1. Mindful Diaphragmatic Breathing
This is an easy exercise that only takes a few minutes.
Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and start to notice your breath. Before you begin to alter it, pay attention to the pace and depth.
- Are you taking deep breaths or shallow ones?
- Are you breathing quickly or slowly?
Becoming aware of your breathing can help you to become more mindful of your body’s response to stress and can help you to notice when you need to deliberately relax your breathing.
2. Five-count Breath Breathing
Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths from your diaphragm, and release the tension in your body. Focus on a five-count breath:
- Slowly inhale from the belly
- Then into ribs
- Then into chest
- Up into crown of the head
- Then gently hold the breath for the fifth count
- Reverse this process on the exhale for another count of five, exhaling from the crown, chest, ribs belly, pausing on the last bit of breath out of the body, and then begin again.
3. Deep Belly Box Breathing
Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes.
- While you count to four, take a deep breath in through your nose, right into your belly. Let it fill up like a balloon.
- Hold that breath for 1, 2, 3, 4.
- Slowly breathe out through your mouth for a count of four, imagine the air is escaping the balloon slowly.
- Hold again for 1, 2, 3, 4.
- Repeat steps 1 - 4 as many times as you need to feel your mind and your body relaxing.
4. Deep, Cleansing Breath
This simple breathing exercise is highly recommended if you are feeling stressed.
- Breathe deeply through your nose, take as much air in as you comfortably can.
- Then release it, and really focus on emptying your lungs.
- Many people hold air in their lungs after an exhale, so emptying your lungs on a deep exhale can help you to get more fresh oxygen into them.
- Repeat a few times and you shall feel the tension in your back, and your shoulders lessen.
5. Alternate Nostril Breathing
This breathing exercise variation has been practiced for thousands of years as a form of meditative breathing.
- As you inhale, place your finger over your right nostril and only breathe through your left.
- On the exhale, switch nostrils and only breathe through your right.
- You can breathe at whatever pace is comfortable for you. (I usually do it in a 4-7-8 ratio: Inhale for a count of 4, wait for a count of 7, exhale for a count of 8)
- Repeat this exercise for up to 5 minutes.
There are many other ways to practice breathing exercises, but these are some of the most popular and effective. Experiment and see which one works best for you.