Breathing Techniques

4-7-8 Breathing: Reduces anxiety and help to fall asleep

  1. empty the lungs of air
  2. breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds
  3. hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds
  4. exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds
  5. repeat the cycle up to 4 times

7/11 Breathing: Relaxing and helps gain composure/ access rational thinking parts of the brain

  1. Sit comfortably either on a cushion or a chair with your shoulders relaxed and your hands folded gently over your tummy.
  2. If possible breathe in and out through your nose. Breathe in for a count of 7 seconds and out for a count of 11 seconds (if you find it too hard to breathe out for so long, start off with 3/6 seconds and work up to 7/11 seconds). The most important thing here is to breathe out longer than you breathe in.
  3. If you are doing it correctly, your shoulders will remain still and your tummy will get bigger and smaller as you breathe (called belly or diaphragmatic breathing). If you sit in front of a mirror you can keep an eye on your shoulders and tummy.
  4. Once you can keep your shoulders still and relaxed without effort it is a good idea to close your eyes and try to picture the numbers in your mind to help you concentrate completely on your breathing.

Pursed Lip Breathing

  1. Relax your neck and shoulders
  2. Keeping your mouth closed, inhale slowly through your nose for 2 counts
  3. Pucker or purse your lips as though you were going to whistle
  4. Exhale slowly by blowing air through your pursed lips for a count of 4

Diaphragmatic Breathing: Relaxing

  1. Lie on your back with your knees slightly bent and your head on a pillow.
  2. You may place a pillow under your knees for support.
  3. Place one hand on your upper chest and one hand below your rib cage, allowing you to feel the movement of your diaphragm.
  4. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling your stomach pressing into your hand.
  5. Keep your other hand as still as possible.
  6. Exhale using pursed lips as you tighten your stomach muscles, keeping your upper hand completely still.

Breath Focus Technique

  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable place.
  2. Bring your awareness to your breaths without trying to change how you’re breathing.
  3. Alternate between normal and deep breaths a few times. Notice any differences between normal breathing and deep breathing. Notice how your abdomen expands with deep inhalations.
  4. Note how shallow breathing feels compared to deep breathing.
  5. Practice your deep breathing for a few minutes.
  6. Place one hand below your belly button, keeping your belly relaxed, and notice how it rises with each inhale and falls with each exhale.
  7. Let out a loud sigh with each exhale.
  8. Begin the practice of breath focus by combining this deep breathing with imagery and a focus word or phrase that will support relaxation.
  9. You can imagine that the air you inhale brings waves of peace and calm throughout your body. Mentally say, “Inhaling peace and calm.”
  10. Imagine that the air you exhale washes away tension and anxiety. You can say to yourself, “Exhaling tension and anxiety.”

Lion’s Breath: Relieve tension in the face and jaw

  1. ome into a comfortable seated position. You can sit back on your heels or cross your legs.
  2. Press your palms against your knees with your fingers spread wide.
  3. Inhale deeply through your nose and open your eyes wide.
  4. At the same time, open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue, bringing the tip down toward your chin.
  5. Contract the muscles at the front of your throat as you exhale out through your mouth by making a long “ha” sound.
  6. You can turn your gaze to look at the space between your eyebrows or the tip of your nose.
  7. Do this breath 2 to 3 times.

Alternate Nostril Breathing: Promotes Relaxation

  1. Choose a comfortable seated position.
  2. Lift up your right hand toward your nose, pressing your first and middle fingers down toward your palm and leaving your other fingers extended.
  3. After an exhale, use your right thumb to gently close your right nostril.
  4. Inhale through your left nostril and then close your left nostril with your right pinky and ring fingers.
  5. Release your thumb and exhale out through your right nostril.
  6. Inhale through your right nostril and then close this nostril.
  7. Release your fingers to open your left nostril and exhale through this side.
  8. This is one cycle.
  9. Continue this breathing pattern for up to 5 minutes.
  10. Finish your session with an exhale on the left side.

Equal Breathing: Brings about balance

  1. Choose a comfortable seated position.
  2. Breathe in and out through your nose.
  3. Count during each inhale and exhale to make sure they are even in duration. Alternatively, choose a word or short phrase to repeat during each inhale and exhale.
  4. You can add a slight pause or breath retention after each inhale and exhale if you feel comfortable. (Normal breathing involves a natural pause.)
  5. Continue practicing this breath for at least 5 minutes.

Resonant Breathing: Reduces stress

  1. Inhale for a count of 5.
  2. Exhale for a count of 5.
  3. Continue this breathing pattern for at least a few minutes.

Sitali Breathing: Lower Body temperature and calms mind

  1. Choose a comfortable seated position.
  2. Stick out your tongue and curl your tongue to bring the outer edges together.
  3. If your tongue doesn’t do this, you can purse your lips.
  4. Inhale through your mouth.
  5. Exhale out through your nose.
  6. Continue breathing like this for up to 5 minutes.

Humming Bee Breath: Creates instant calm

  1. Choose a comfortable seated position.
  2. Close your eyes and relax your face.
  3. Place your first fingers on the tragus cartilage that partially covers your ear canal.
  4. Inhale, and as you exhale gently press your fingers into the cartilage.
  5. Keeping your mouth closed, make a loud humming sound.
  6. Continue for as long as is comfortable.

Kapalbhati Breathing

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight. Place your hands on your knees, palms facing the sky. You may choose to sit cross-legged on the floor, on a chair with feet flat on the floor, or in Virasana Pose (sitting on your heals with knees bent and shins tucked beneath the thighs).
  2. Take a deep breath in.
  3. As you exhale, contract your belly, forcing the breath out in a short burst. You may keep a hand on your stomach to feel your abdominal muscles contract.
  4. As you quickly release your abdomen, your breath should flow into your lungs automatically.
  5. Take 20 such breaths to complete one round of Kapalbhati pranayama.
  6. After completing one round, relax with your eyes closed and observe the sensations in your body.
  7. Do two more rounds to complete your practice.

Kapalbhati breathing has been reported as helping open the sinuses and improving concentration. It’s considered an advanced breathing technique. It’s advisable to master other techniques, such as Bhramari pranayama, before attempting this one.

Breathing For Sleep

4-7-8 Breathing

  1. Allow your lips to gently part.
  2. Exhale completely, making a breathy whoosh sound as you do.
  3. Press your lips together as you silently inhale through the nose for a count of 4 seconds.
  4. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  5. Exhale again for a full 8 seconds, making a whooshing sound throughout.
  6. Repeat 4 times when you first start. Eventually work up to 8 repetitions.

Bhramari Pranayama Breathing

  1. Close your eyes and breathe deeply in and out.
  2. Cover your ears with your hands.
  3. Place your index fingers one each above your eyebrows and the rest of your fingers over your eyes.
  4. Next, put gentle pressure to the sides of your nose and focus on your brow area.
  5. Keep your mouth closed and breathe out slowly through your nose, making the humming “Om” sound.
  6. Repeat the process 5 times.

Three-Part Breathing

  1. Take a long, deep inhale.
  2. Exhale fully while focusing intently on your body and how it feels.
  3. After doing this a few times, slow down your exhale so that it’s twice as long as your inhale.

Buteyko Breathing

  1. Sit in bed with your mouth gently closed (not pursed) and breathe through your nose at a natural pace for about 30 seconds.
  2. Breathe a bit more intentionally in and out through your nose once.
  3. Gently pinch your nose closed with your thumb and forefinger, keeping your mouth closed as well, until you feel that you need to take a breath again.
  4. With your mouth still closed, take a deep breath in and out through your nose again.

Many people don’t realize that they are hyperventilating. This exercise helps you to reset to a normal breathing rhythm.

Papworth Method

  1. Sit up straight, perhaps in bed if using this to fall asleep.
  2. Take deep, methodical breaths in and out, counting to 4 with each inhale — through your mouth or nose — and each exhale, which should be through your nose.
  3. Focus on your abdomen rising and falling, and listen for your breath sounds to come from your stomach.

This relaxing method is helpful for reducing habits of yawning and sighing.

Box Breathing

  1. Sit with your back straight, breathe in, and then try to push all the air out of your lungs as you exhale.
  2. Inhale slowly through your nose and count to 4 in your head, filling your lungs with more air with each number.
  3. Hold your breath and count to 4 in your head.
  4. Slowly exhale through your mouth, focusing on getting all the oxygen out of your lungs.