Inhale deeply, now exhale slowly. Notice the different feeling already? This list of 7 of the best breathing exercises provides several natural ways to calm yourself down and reduce anxiety in your body. Simply paying attention to one’s breathing can offer many benefits, including relaxation and serenity.
Breathwork is often used in various forms of meditation; this practice has been proven to work wonders for those who make it part of their daily routine and healthy lifestyle. If you are looking for a way to combat stress or improve lung function, we offer 7 different types of breathing exercises.
We suggest finding one that appeals to you immediately because it will make practicing more fun.
Best Practices for Breathing Exercises
Sometimes practicing yoga and/or breathing exercises can cause certain thoughts or feelings to emerge. We want to try to ignore most of the thoughts, but feelings are a different story. A best practice for this sort of exercise is to stop or pause practicing if you feel slightly uncomfortable and discontinue immediately if agitation sets in.
Now let’s take a look at our options for the 7 best breathing exercises for you to try today.
1. Diaphragmatic Breathing
People may try diaphragmatic breathing to relieve the symptoms of lung conditions, stress, or anxiety.
Diaphragmatic breathing—sometimes referred to as belly breathing—can also be part of a pulmonary rehabilitation program.
This type of deep breathing can help strengthen the lungs and make them work more efficiently. If you’re having trouble breathing, it could be because the diaphragm muscle is not functioning properly.
If this happens, your body will start using other muscles to breathe – usually relying on those in the back, neck, or chest.
It’s very important to keep the neck and shoulders relaxed while performing this breathing technique to ensure that the diaphragm does more of the work.
If you struggle to breathe while lying down, try focusing on filling your lungs – watch them rise and fall!
To do this:
- Place your hands gently on your stomach
- Breathe in deeply through your nose until your stomach rises
- Now, exhale slowly and from the bottom of your lungs
2. Lion’s Breath
This lion’s breath will invigorate you; its deep inhalations are meant to alleviate tense areas in your neck and head. It is also referred to as Lion’s Pose or Simhasana in Sanskrit.
To perform this exercise, a person should:
- Sit comfortably with your hands pressed against your knees and your fingers spread wide.
- With each inhales through your nose, open your eyes wide and stick out your tongue to bring it down towards the chin.
- As you exhale, make a long ha sound from deep within the throat while looking straight ahead at the space between your eyebrows or the tip of her nose for 2-3 rounds of breath.
3. Mindful Breathing
Mindful breathing has been proven to help with anxiety, stress, sleep issues, and high blood pressure.
A person needs only pay full attention to the breath during this exercise- which could also be seen as a form of meditation.
And there are many different types of mindful breathing techniques; one very simple way is focusing on the natural rhythm of in-and-out breaths without changing anything about them.
Breathing slows naturally when people do this; nonetheless, it calms anyone who tries it from head to toe.
To do this:
- Find a quiet place free of distractions.
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
- Feel and listen to the body inhale and exhale as you breathe.
- Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment.
4. Pursed Lip Breathing
This simple yet powerful breathing technique gives your lungs room to take deeper breaths by applying deliberate effort in each breath.
When we are busy, we need to stop for a moment and breathe deeply. Practicing pursed lip breathing every few hours will ensure that this routine becomes second nature.
This exercise can also be particularly useful before doing activities such as heavy lifting or walking upstairs.
To perform this exercise:
- Relax your shoulders and neck
- Keep your mouth closed
- Breathe in through your nose for two counts
- Make a pucker with your lips as if whistling
- Exhale by blowing out air from between pursed lips for four counts
5. Equal Breathing
Equally-paced breathing, known as samāvṛtti in Sanskrit, is a yogic breathing technique that emphasizes equal lengths of inhaling and exhaling. You may find it useful to count the number of breaths you take.
It’s important to remember, however, that there are no right or wrong numbers; some people prefer 3–5 counts per inhale-exhale cycle, while others might prefer 10–12.
It doesn’t matter how many counts you use—as long as they’re even! Once you’re comfortable with this form of meditation while sitting still, you can try it out during your yoga practice or when going about your day.
To perform equal breathing, you should:
- Choose a relaxing sitting position. Breathe in and out through your nose.
- You may count to two each time you inhale and exhale to ensure they’re equal in duration.
- Alternatively, choose a word or short phrase to repeat during each inhale and exhale. If you feel comfortable, you can add a slight pause after every inhale and exhalation; otherwise, breathe normally without holding back air (breathing usually includes some natural pauses).
- Continue practicing this deep breathing for at least five minutes.
6. Sitali Breath
Sitali breath helps you to relax your mind and lower your body temperature. Extend your inhalation slightly, but only do so when it feels natural.
This type of breath is done through the mouth, so people sensitive to certain allergens or air pollution should consider practicing this outside.
To perform this exercise, you should:
- Sit comfortably and stick out your tongue.
- Curl it so that the outer edges come together. If your tongue does not do this, you can purse your lips instead.
- Inhale through your mouth and exhale out of your nose for up to five minutes at a time
7. Deep Breathing
Deep breaths are an excellent way to calm yourself during a stressful or anxious moment.
Taking deep, full breaths can slow your heart rate and ease some of the tension building up inside of you.
To perform this, a person should:
- Relax your shoulders and sit comfortably
- Inhale slowly, filling the lungs with air.
- Exhale slowly; let all of the air escape from your lungs.
There are plenty of best breathing exercises you can try and experiment with. Try dedicating a certain amount of time each week to practicing them.
Depending on your needs, there are different ways of practicing during the day. With any medical concerns or medications considered, see your doctor before practicing anything new.
If you’re interested in learning more about breathing practices, talk to a respiratory therapist or a yoga instructor specializing in it – and know that they can teach you everything from meditation techniques to pranayama (a type of breathing).