Taking out some time from your day to practice breathing techniques can help you find better focus and deal with anxiety-inducing thoughts. Breathing is one of the most crucial requirements of living, and yet, most of us do not try to set aside some time for it. From improving lung function to coping better with your racing thoughts, you can count on the ten breathing exercises mentioned below.
Let’s begin with a simple but effective exercise. You can calm yourself through pursed breathing at any time and place. You must remember first to relax your shoulders and neck. This exercise involves inhaling through the nose, then puckering your lips as you would before whistling, and then exhaling through pursed lips. Do this till the count of four and try to include this exercise four or five times in your daily routine.
This yoga exercise is also known as equal breathing and is particularly suitable at bedtime. Get into a comfortable position, and get ready to calm your mind. Inhale and exhale through your nose for four counts each, and you’ll be able to relax enough to get a good night’s sleep. Once you’re used to this natural resistance from breathing through the nose, you can try to do it for six to eight counts.
Breath Focus Technique
This breathing technique involves keeping a word or phrase in mind that you feel calm or neutral about. For example, if it’s the word ‘peace,’ you can use this word for building focus in your session. You are basically expected to grow aware of your breathing and calming yourself mentally as you self-talk about inhaling peace. Instead of words or phrases, you can also choose imagery that brings you peace and takes your focus away from anxiety.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Alternate nostril breathing is another breathing exercise coming from yoga. This technique has been proven to lower your heart rate and improve cardiovascular function. However, it would be best if you did this exercise on an empty stomach. Sick people should avoid doing this exercise. The use of the correct fingers is essential here, so it’s recommended to watch some expert videos before attempting on your own.
You may also know this exercise by the name of resonant breathing. It involves breathing five full breaths in one minute. Breathe in and out for a count of five and help your heart rate in maximizing. Resonant breathing is considered useful for reducing stress and symptoms of depression. A few minutes of this breathing exercise can calm your mind and prepare you to face the day.
Deep breathing is an excellent way of getting fresher air in your lungs. It also helps in handling stress and attaining better mental focus. Inhale deeply through your nose and hold your breath as you count to five. Release it slowly through your nose. People who struggle with shortness of breath can do this exercise to get more fresh air and feel more relaxed.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
For best results, try to do this breathing technique while you’re sitting. It involves tensing up intentionally, and then one by one relaxing all your muscle groups. Take deep breaths while you’re doing this exercise. Start loosening the muscle groups from bottom to top, starting with your feet and ending with your jaw and eyes. If you struggle or face discomfort in breathing, try slowing down with the exercise.
Abdominal Breathing Technique
For stressful situations like giving exams or going for an interview, doing the abdominal breathing technique can help you relax. You can do this exercise by placing one hand on your chest and the other on your belly and breathing deeply, so your diaphragm feels like it is stretching. Exhale slowly, and do this six to ten times in a minute. You will feel much better and calmer.
If you struggle with falling asleep at night, you should try this exercise. Also known as the ‘relaxing breath’ technique, it is a lot like equal breathing and has roots in yoga exercises. The name comes from how the method is executed –you inhale for four counts and hold the breath for seven counts. The slow exhalation is done for a count of eight.
Humming Bee Breath
This yoga breathing practice involves creating a unique sensation. People have found this exercise, also known as bhramari, to be useful in calming down anxious thoughts and relaxing from a state of frustration. You can do this exercise by finding a comfortable position and partially covering your ears as you inhale and exhale. With your mouth closed, make a humming sound as long as it helps you relax.
Try out some of these breathing exercises next time you feel anxious or are having trouble sleeping. It not only can cure your racing thoughts but is also beneficial for your lung function, so start to work some of these into your daily routine.