8 Amazing Breathing Exercises You Need To Try Right Now!
We all know the feeling of needing to take a deep, relaxing breath when life gets overwhelming. But breathing exercises can do much more than just help you relax in stressful times – they can help you to feel energetic, and focused and even improve your physical performance! That’s why I’ve put together a list of 8 breathing exercises guaranteed to help you make the most of your breathing.
From basic breathing and other relaxation techniques to specialized breathing techniques, there’s something here for everyone. Whether you’re looking to calm down or get some extra energy, breathing exercises can help get you there. And best of all – they only take a few minutes to practice!
The power of breathwork
How you breathe impacts your nervous system and how your brain works, which means that by changing how you breathe, you can change how you feel, lower your blood pressure and you fall asleep.
There are many different types of breathing techniques and exercises. Whether it means increasing its length or depth, slowing it down, or speeding it up. The idea is to make breathing a conscious act that you can use to control your state of mind and body.
Each exercise has its own benefits, but all can have a positive effect on your health and well-being. Some breathing exercises can help you relax, reduce stress and anxiety, clear your head, improve focus and concentration, help with pain relief (including headaches and migraines), increase energy levels, and boost physical performance – the list goes on!
7 breathing exercises you need to try
Here’s a list of breathing exercises you can practice to gain the above benefits. Take your time and find the breathing exercise that works best for you, and be sure to set aside at least five minutes each day to focus on breathing.
The 4-7-8 Method
Best for: Falling asleep, calming the mind
Are you feeling stressed? What about insomnia? The 4-7-8 breathing method could be the perfect thing for you! This breathing exercise is designed to help you slow down your breathing and relax your body, helping you drift off to sleep. It activates your parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for resting and digesting
How it works:
- Begin by breathing in through the nose for a count of four.
- Then hold your breath for seven seconds before breathing out slowly through the mouth for a count of eight.
- Keep breathing in this pattern, breathing in for four counts, holding your breath for seven counts, and breathing out for eight counts.
When to use the 4-7-8 method:
The 4-7-8 method is a great breathing exercise to do before bedtime. It can help you relax and get in the right headspace for falling asleep. It’s also something I’ve used before important meetings and presentations to keep me calm and focused.
RELATED: Guided Mindfulness Meditation: Sleep Better Than You Ever Have
2. Alternate Nostril Breathing
Best for: Releasing stress, calming the mind and body
Alternate nostril breathing is one of the most popular exercises and has been used in yoga and meditation for centuries. The technique helps to harmonize breathing, balance the left and right sides of the brain and reduce stress.
How it works:
- Begin by sitting in a comfortable position with your back straight.
- Fold your index finger and middle finger into your palm.
- Place your thumb on one nostril to close it off before inhaling deeply through the other nostril.
- Then, close off the other nostril with your ring finger and exhale through the first one.
- Repeat this breathing exercise for a few minutes before switching sides and breathing in and out through the opposite nostrils.
When to use alternate nostril breathing:
Try alternate nostril breathing when you’re feeling stressed out or anxious. The breathing pattern helps to create a sense of balance and calm your body, heart rate, and mind.
3. Lion’s Breath
Best for: Releasing tension and eliminating toxins
Lion’s breath is a breathing exercise that helps to reduce stress, clear the mind and release tension from the body. It also helps eliminate toxins from your body, giving you more energy and helping to improve overall health.
How it works:
- Begin by breathing in deeply through the nose for a count of four.
- Then, with your tongue out, exhale forcefully through your throat with a lion-like roar. Feel free to make any sound you like – this is all about releasing any built-up tension.
- Keep breathing in and out, breathing in for four counts, roaring out (or making any sound you prefer) with each breath out.
- Repeat this breathing exercise until you feel more relaxed and released from any built-up stress or tension.
When to use lion’s breath:
This breathing exercise is excellent for releasing any built-up tension and eliminating toxins from the body. Try it when you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or need to clear your head. It’s also a great practice when you need to feel extra confident about something you’re about to do.
4. Abdominal breathing
Best for: Improved breathing capacity
This breathing exercise focuses on expanding the abdominal muscles while using slow breathing, helping to improve breathing capacity. Increased breathing capacity leads to better breathing and improved oxygen uptake.
How it works:
- Begin by breathing in slowly through the nose for two counts, expanding your abdomen as you do so.
- Then continue breathing out slowly through the mouth for four counts.
- Focus on allowing the belly to drop with each breath out, while contracting your abdominal muscles when breathing in.
- Keep repeating this exercise for a few minutes until you feel more relaxed and present in the moment.
When to use abdominal breathing:
Abdominal breathing helps you to breathe better and increases your breathing capacity. Make it a habit to practice this breathing exercise every day, especially if you have breathing difficulties or have been diagnosed with breathing problems.
Related: Mindfulness Running
5. Box breathing (Square breathing)
Best for: Calming down, relieving stress
Box breathing (also known as square breathing) is a simple exercise that can be done anywhere. It helps to relax the body and mind, reduce stress and clear your head. Like the 4 7 8 breathing technique, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping you to feel rested.
How it works:
- Begin by breathing in for four counts.
- Then hold your breath for four counts before breathing out slowly for four counts.
- Finally, hold your breath again (with empty lungs) for another four counts.
- Continue with this breathing exercise, breathing in for four counts, holding the breath for four counts, breathing out for four counts, and then once again holding the breath (with lungs empty) for another four seconds.
- Continue repeating this pattern until you feel more relaxed and focused.
When to use box breathing:
Box breathing is a great breathing exercise for calming down and reducing stress. Try it whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious and need to clear your head.
RELATED: Box Breathing: How to Feel Less Stressed in Just One Breath
6. Double Breathing
Best for: Increasing alertness
Double breathing is a breathing exercise that helps to increase alertness and get you into a relaxed yet focused state. The breathing technique can be used as a pre-exam or work boost or to give yourself an extra energy boost throughout the day.
How it works:
- Begin by breathing in for two counts and breathing out for four counts.
- Then, breathe in for four counts and breathe out for eight counts.
- Finally, breathe in for six counts and out for twelve counts.
- Repeat this breathing exercise three times and then switch breathing in and breathing out for the counts.
- Notice how alert and focused you become with each breath!
When to use double breathing:
Double breathing is an excellent exercise to use when you need an energy boost, such as before an exam or work. It helps to increase alertness and focus, allowing you to be more productive and get things done.
7. Bellows breath
Best for: Quick energizing breathing
This breathing exercise is perfect for when you need a quick pick-me-up and energy boost. It helps to energize the body and invigorate the mind.
How it works:
- Begin by breathing in quickly through both nostrils, filling your lungs completely with air.
- Then exhale quickly out of the nose as if you were snorting out air like an animal.
- Repeat this breathing exercise until you feel more energized and alert.
When to use bellows breath:
Use bellows breath when you feel tired or sluggish instead of reaching for a cup of coffee or energy drink. Use it anytime you need an extra boost of energy throughout the day.
8. Slow deep breathing
Best for: Reducing headaches and migraines
Slow deep breathing is a powerful exercise that can relieve tension, calm the mind and reduce headaches and migraines. It works by using breath control helping the body relax and relieving stress, tension, and anxiety.
How it works:
- Begin by breathing in slowly through the nose for a count of four.
- Then breathing out slowly through the mouth for a count of eight.
- Continue breathing in and out with this steady rhythm until you feel relaxed and your headache or migraine has eased.
When to use slow deep breathing:
This is an excellent way to relieve tension and reduce headaches and migraines. Try it when you feel a headache or migraine coming on or need to relax and de-stress.
Try one of these exercises the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or need an energy boost, and you’ll soon be able to use your breath to unlock its many healing powers! It’s amazing what a few minutes of deep and slow breathing can do to improve your health and well-being.
Comment below and let us know which one was your favorite, what benefits you experienced, or even share other deep breathing exercises you’d like to recommend.