Vitality

Best Breathing Techniques To Start Your Day Right

Meditation helps you calm both your mind and body. However, it is a difficult practice to do because as you sit still and quiet down your surroundings, all the thoughts, feelings and sensations you felt suddenly bubble up. That is where the art of breathwork comes in. 

An active form of meditation involving breathing, breathwork allows you to disconnect from your mind and also be guided by your heart and body, helping you achieve a greater sense of self-awareness and capacity for self-healing. As you breath out all non-beneficial thoughts, beliefs, memories and actions, you return whole and ready to handle stress, anxiety, long-term trauma and even the emotional effects of physical illness.

Though there are many types of breathwork practices, each with a unique purpose and effect on your body, three of these are ideal for starting your day right:

If You Feel Overwhelmed: The 4-7-8 Breath 

When you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, angry, triggered and have trouble sleeping, then the relaxing breath, also known as the 4-7-8 breath, is for you. It helps you slow down and calm your body, not only slowing your heart rate, but also bringing your consciousness to the present moment and slowing the nervous system in order to bring a feeling of calmness and peace. As an added bonus, it teaches your body to take in less (in a culture where external factors can affect our minds and bodies), how to create space between inhale and exhale, and even how to release excess energy and thought from your body. 

Instructions:

  1. Empty your lungs of air. 
  2. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds. 
  3. Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
  4. Exhale out of your mouth for 8 seconds. 
  5. Repeat at least 4 times.

If You Need Energy: The 4-4-4-4 Breath 

Known for being in used by Navy SEALs, box or square breathing, AKA the 4-4-4-4 breath, helps you slow your heart rate while deepening your concentration. The 4-4-4-4 breath also amps up your efficiency, performance and concentration, and even provides stress relief. It is best used in the morning to wake up, at midday if you are feeling sleepy or before a big project or meeting that requires your unwavering focus. 

Instructions: 

  1. Release all the air in your chest.
  2. Hold your breath for 4 seconds, then breathe through the nose for 4 seconds.
  3. Hold your breath for 4 seconds, then exhale out of the nose for 4 seconds.
  4. Repeat for 5 minutes for maximum effect.

If You Are Feeling Worked Up: The 5-5 Breath 

Normally we breathe at 2 to 3 seconds per minute, but you can go beyond that rate by means of coherent breathing, also known as the 5-5 breath. Ideal for bringing an overall sense of calm, this controlled and conscious breathing practice slows down our breathing to 4 seconds and then 5 seconds, and can be practiced throughout the day. 

Instructions: 

  1. Focus on your breath's natural rhythm in order to obtain a baseline length of each inhale and exhale.
  2. For 1 minute, breath in and exhale for 4 seconds each.
  3. Repeat step 2, this time for 5, 6 and 10 seconds each; breath in and exhale for 5/6/10 seconds each for 1 minute.
  4. Start with 5 minutes total, then work your way up over time to 20 minutes.

breathing exercises Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, practicing deep breathing offers many health benefits, such as stress relief. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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