Advanced breathing techniques for a deeper exploration on the benefits of breathwork
In a previous blog post we introduced diaphragmatic breathing. Slow, deep breathing is considered the healthiest for us since it can boost our physical and mental energy, help release waste and create a sense of calm. Once you have mastered basic diaphragmatic breathing, you may want to experiment with other breathing techniques to see how they make you feel. Some methods may be easier for you to practice than others or they may be better suited for specific situations. The idea is to find a technique that works for you. Here are 4 more to explore at your own pace.
Equal (or Counted) Breathing
This technique focuses on making inhalation and exhalation of each breath equal in length. Smooth, steady breaths are soothing for your body and mind, especially when you feel overwhelmed, or anxious.
The body will naturally pause at the top and bottom of each breath. Give each breath the space it needs and continue the cycle, 4 counts in and 4 counts out, for several minutes.
This method can also be done lying down and is particularly helpful before going to sleep at night. Focusing on your breath gives your mind a task, which can help stop racing thoughts, and relaxes your body.
Similar to Equal Breathing, the 4-7-8 technique helps reduce anxiety and promotes a sense of balance and relaxation.
The 365 Method, commonly referred to as cardiac coherence in medical circles, attempts to coordinate breathing with heart rate to promote relaxation. This technique is most effective when practiced 3 or more times per day for 5 minutes. It is a great reset for body and mind, and is perfect for those transitional moments in life, like switching projects at work, going into an important meeting, or transitioning from work to family mode at the end of the day.
Aim to do 6 breath cycles per minute and repeat for 5 rounds. The whole exercise takes five minutes.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Used in mediation and yogic exercises, Alternate Nostril Breathing is a powerful yet simple practice that clams and balances the mind and energizes the body. This breathing technique only uses one nostril at a time in an alternating pattern.
Each round of Alternate Nostril Breathing has 2 complete breaths. Begin with 5 rounds and add more as you feel ready. Remember to keep your breathing slow, easy and full.
Develop a breathing practice
Experiencing stress is a part of living. It is how we manage and respond to stress that counts. In only a few minutes a day, breathing exercises like the ones above (and there are many more) can immediately calm and balance your nervous system. So take a deep breath and commit to practicing one of these methods each day. You’ll be healthier for it.