1. Box Breathing:
Box breathing is a simple yet effective breathing exercise that can help to reduce stress, increase focus and improve overall well-being. It’s also known as square breathing because of the way you visualise a square in your mind as you breathe.
To begin, sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes or keep them open, whatever you feel most comfortable with.
Now, take a slow, deep breath in through your nose, counting to four as you do so. Feel the air filling your lungs and expanding your chest.
Hold your breath for a count of four, feeling the tension in your body as you hold the breath in.
Next, slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of four, feeling the air leaving your lungs and your chest contracting.
Finally, hold your breath for another count of four, feeling the emptiness in your lungs.
And that’s it! Repeat the cycle for a few minutes, or as long as you feel comfortable doing so.
If you’re finding it hard to count to four, try using your fingers to help you keep track. As you inhale, touch your thumb to your index finger. Hold your breath and touch your thumb to your middle finger. As you exhale, touch your thumb to your ring finger. Finally, as you hold your breath again, touch your thumb to your little finger. This simple trick can help you to stay focused and get the most out of your box breathing practice.
Remember, box breathing can be done anytime, anywhere, whenever you need to take a few moments to yourself. Whether you’re feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, taking a few minutes to practice box breathing can help you to feel calmer, more relaxed and more in control.
I said to do this for a count of four. However, I would urge you to experiment and find a time that is right for you. For some that might be 3 for others it could 7.
Try different durations and see which “feels” right for you.
2. Diaphragmatic Breathing:
Ah, diaphragmatic breathing! Also known as belly breathing, it’s a simple and effective technique to reduce stress and anxiety, and it’s a great way to help you feel more relaxed and centered.
To get started, find a comfortable position where you can sit or lie down. Take a moment to get settled, and then place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
As you inhale, try to expand your belly like a balloon, pushing it out against your hand. This will allow your diaphragm to move down and create more space for your lungs to fill up with air.
Next, as you exhale, let your belly naturally fall back down towards your spine, and gently push the air out of your lungs.
Repeat this process several times, taking slow and steady breaths in and out. As you get more comfortable with this technique, try to make your inhales and exhales last a little longer each time.
Remember, the key to diaphragmatic breathing is to focus on your belly, not your chest. So try not to let your chest rise and fall with each breath, and instead focus on the feeling of your belly expanding and contracting.
And don’t worry if you find it a bit tricky at first – like anything, it takes practice to master. But with time and patience, you’ll soon be able to use diaphragmatic breathing whenever you need to feel more calm and relaxed.
So give it a go and see how you feel – your belly will thank you for it!
3. 3-4-5 Breath:
The 3-4-5 Breath is a simple breathing exercise that can help you relax and reduce stress. As the name suggests, this exercise involves inhaling for 3 seconds, holding the breath for 4 seconds, and exhaling for 5 seconds.
To get started, find a comfortable position, whether you’re sitting or lying down. Take a deep breath in through your nose, filling up your belly like a balloon, and count to 3 in your head. Hold your breath for a count of 4, and then slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 5. Repeat this pattern for several breaths, feeling your body start to unwind with each cycle.
Remember to keep your breathing slow and controlled, without straining yourself. You can also experiment with different counts to find what feels best for you. Maybe you prefer a 2-3-4 count, or a 4-5-6 count. It’s all about finding what works for your body and your mood.
The best thing about the 3-4-5 Breath is that you can do it anywhere, whether you’re stuck in traffic, waiting in line at the supermarket, or just need a quick break from a stressful situation. With a little practice, you’ll find that this simple exercise can be a powerful tool for calming your mind and reducing tension in your body.
So, take a deep but gentle breath in, and let it all out with a big sigh. Give the 3-4-5 Breath a try, and see how it can help you feel more relaxed and refreshed in just a few short moments.
4. One Minute of Six Breaths:
One minute of six breaths is a quick and easy breathing exercise you can do anywhere. It’s perfect for when you need to take a break from a stressful situation or just want to clear your head.
To start, find a quiet spot to sit down or stand up with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Now, breathe in deeply and count to six as you do so. Hold your breath for a count of two and then exhale for a count of six.
Remember to focus on your breath and let go of any distracting thoughts. It may feel strange at first, but keep practising and you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
It’s called one minute of six breaths for a reason: you only need to do six breaths in total! This means you can easily fit it into your day, even during a busy workday.
Try incorporating one minute of six breaths into your daily routine. Whether it’s during your lunch break or right before bed, taking a moment to breathe can make a big difference in your overall wellbeing.
Try experimenting with this. I have suggested to count to 6 breaths, but try 4, or 7 and find which number feels right for you.
5. Nadi Shodhan:
Nadi Shodhan, also known as alternate nostril breathing, is a great way to calm your mind and balance your energy. So grab a tissue, blow your nose, and let’s get started!
Find a comfortable seated position with your spine straight and your hands resting on your knees.
Take a deep but gentle breath in and out through both nostrils to start.
Use your right hand to fold your first two fingers down towards your palm, leaving your thumb, ring finger, and pinky finger up.
Use your thumb to close your right nostril, and inhale deeply through your left nostril for a count of four.
At the top of your inhale, close your left nostril with your ring finger and pinky finger, and hold your breath for a count of four.
Release your right nostril and exhale for a count of four.
Inhale through your right nostril for a count of four.
At the top of your inhale, close your right nostril with your thumb, and hold your breath for a count of four.
Release your left nostril and exhale for a count of four.
Repeat steps 4-9 for several rounds, or as long as you like.
Remember to keep your breath slow and steady, and focus on the sensation of the breath moving in and out of your nostrils. If you get lightheaded or dizzy, take a break and return to normal breathing.
So take a deep but gentle breath, blow your nose, and give Nadi Shodhan a try. Your mind and body will thank you for it!
Once again, please do experiment. I have suggested a count of four, but play with this and see which number feels right for you.
If you enjoyed this post and want to learn more about improving your health and well-being, join the community of proactive individuals in the Habits & Health Facebook group. I’ll be sharing more tips and tricks to help you live a healthier, happier life.