Breathing exercises are essential to achieve and maintain good physical and mental health. They help support your cardiovascular system, reduce stress, ease muscle pain and tension, and boost your ability to focus in difficult situations.
You can practice various breathing techniques for various health reasons, such as treating panic attacks, emotional changes, anxiety, and fatigue.
Depending on your breathing method, you can ease your stress, calm your nerves in preparation for an exam, sharpen your focus for an important meeting, or relax before sleep.
What are the advantages of practicing deep breathing and similar techniques to regulate your breathwork and increase oxygen?
- Better cardiovascular health
- Stronger abdominal muscles
- Less anxiety and stress
- Quality sleep with fewer disturbances
- Supports the digestive system
- Improved cognitive abilities
- Overall better productivity and efficiency at work and school
Several effective breathing techniques will support you throughout the day. Read further to learn about eight top breathwork exercises that help you breathe, relax, and focus better while improving your health.
1. Diaphragmatic Breathing
This breathing exercise helps strengthen the abdomen and diaphragm, which are essential for deep breathing. It’s also a great technique that relaxes you quickly so you feel rested after a busy day.
You may know this breathing exercise as abdominal breathing or belly breathing, as your stomach rises, inflating like a balloon, when you inhale and flattens as you exhale.
Shallow breathing can cause shortness of breath since you cannot get enough oxygen, and air can get trapped inside your lungs. Taking a deep breath, and practicing slow, measured deep breathing can help your body calm quickly so you feel more grounded and relaxed.
You can perform this breathing technique sitting or standing. Bring your elbows back slightly from your chest, stretching to help expand your chest as you inhale through your nose. As you inhale, count to four or five, then hold your breath, counting the same, before releasing or exhaling your breath at the same pace.
Pranayama is a type of breathing technique used in yoga, which means breath control. This method is often practiced for physical, emotional, and spiritual balance and health. It’s practiced in a comfortable, seated position, which is often the lotus pose.
This traditional breathing technique is practiced by inhaling a deep, consistent breath through your nose until your lungs reach full capacity. It’s important to sit upright so that your spine is aligned. Exhale slowly through your nose, and repeat as often as needed.
One of the best methods of handling stress management box breathing focuses on the visual of a square, where each side represents four counts. To prepare for this technique, exhale entirely until your lungs are empty, then begin to inhale slowly for a count of four.
Hold your breath for four more seconds, then exhale with the same count. Pause after exhalation for another count of four before repeating the process.
It’s a highly effective technique that supports your mental health, especially if you experience anxiety and highly stressful or challenging situations at work or home. It can be performed in any environment, though practicing in a quiet, comfortable space is best.
This breathing technique requires inhaling through your nose, with your mouth closed, then exhaling with pursed lips, so the breathwork becomes intentional and slower than other methods.
It’s helpful for people with abnormal respiratory patterns, airway obstruction, COPD, sleep apnea, emphysema, and other conditions, such as anxiety.
You can perform pursed lips breathing while standing or sitting, during or after completing a difficult or strenuous activity, such as lifting, bending, running, or climbing.
Before you begin, ensure your shoulders and neck are relaxed, then inhale through your nose for two counts. Pursing your lips together, exhale slowly to a count of four, then repeat four to five times.
Cardiac coherence breathing helps reduce cortisol levels in the body, which reduces stress and lowers blood pressure while decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease and blood sugar.
Ideally, it should be done for up to five minutes in one session, which includes six breaths each minute. The long-term benefits of this technique include improving hormone regulation and concentration, and it supports your nervous system.
The technique consists of one breath every ten seconds, inhaling four seconds, and exhaling equals six seconds. You can perform this breathing method anywhere, whether taking a break at work, school, or home.
Alternate nostril breathing is ideal when you feel sick or congested. It’s best to perform comfortably while pressing one finger against one side of your nose to block your right nostril gently.
Take a slow, deep breath through the left nostril, switch your thumb and finger to cover the left nostril, and exhale the same breath through your right side. This is one cycle and can be done slowly and consistently for up to five minutes for best results.
This breathing exercise is commonly practiced during yoga and produces a calm, soothing sensation. It’s also helpful in reducing anxiety, anger, frustration, and stress quickly while reducing your heart rate. It’s best to practice sitting in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, and relaxing your face.
Gently press your index finger inside the cartilage of both ears as you exhale, then inhale slowly to repeat this process. During this technique, your mouth should remain closed, making a humming sound.
Breathing patterns and techniques offer numerous benefits for your health and well-being while helping you manage stressful situations and reduce the side effects of anxiety, respiratory illnesses, and sleeping disorders.
With regular practice, breathing methods can provide your body and mind the support you’ll need to face difficult situations and handle them more effectively.