Breathwork is a form of mindfulness that offers several physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. Often, people develop the unconscious habit of shallow breathing, which can trigger stress in the body and simulate a fight-or-flight response.
Breathwork exercises use deep, diaphragmic breathing to increase oxygen and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing stress and calming the body and mind. Beginners can include breathwork in their daily lives in seven simple ways.
1. Diaphragm Breathing
Diaphragm breathing is a primary breathwork practice. Start by sitting or lying down. Rest one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Slowly inhale using your nose and feel your belly rise. Next, let the breath out through your mouth and feel the belly soften.
2. Box Breathing
Box breathing follows a pattern of 4-4-4-4. Inhale, hold your breath, exhale, and pause, each on the count of four.
3. Alternate Nostril Controlled Breathing
This exercise focuses on breathing through one nostril at a time. Sitting upright, block your left nostril with your left thumb. Slowly breathe in through the right nostril, then release your hold on your left nostril and use your third finger to block your right nostril.
Pause at the top of your inhalation before exhaling through your left nostril. Pause again, then inhale through your left nostril, and switch your fingers again, this time closing your left nostril with your thumb.
4. Ocean-Sounding Breath
Also known as the Ujjayi breath, the ocean-sounding breath is a popular yoga technique to create an audible breath. Start by inhaling through the nose. As you slowly exhale, contract your throat to make a gentle ocean sound.
5. Four-Seven-Eight Breathing
A form of rhythmic breathing known as four-seven-eight breathing can relax the body, improve sleep, and offer mental and physical health benefits.
Sitting or lying down comfortably, inhale for four seconds. Hold the inhale for seven seconds before exhaling for eight seconds.
6. Pursed Lip Breathing
Pursed lip breathing slows the breath and corrects breathing patterns. Start by sitting comfortably, relaxing your neck and shoulders. Next, breathe in with your nose as you count to two, then purse your lips as you exhale through your mouth as you count to four.
7. Resonance Breathing
Resonance breathing intends to relax your body and mind while reducing anxiety.
Start lying down with your eyes closed. Gently breathe in through your nose with your mouth shut for six seconds. Don’t overfill your lungs. Exhale slowly over six seconds, gently allowing your breath to leave your body.
Whichever method you choose, incorporating breathwork into your daily routine can make a difference in your health.
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