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5 Breathing Exercises to Boost Focus, Energy & Relaxation (In 5 Minutes)

Energising Morning Breathing Exercises

Spend 1 minute on each breathing exercise.

3 Part Breathing 

  • As you take a deep breath in through your nose focus on breathing deeply in to your belly, expanding it like a balloon.
  • As you continue to breathe in expand the breath to fill your chest and feel your rib cage expanding.
  • Finally for the last part of your inhale visualise breathing up to your collar bones and feel your upper chest expand.
  • As you breathe out feel the breath leaving first your collarbone and upper chest, then rib cage and finally the belly, letting them drop and relax.

Keep each breath smooth and deep and don’t struggle or force the breath. Just breathe as deeply as you can and enjoy the feeling of expansion and space in the lungs. Energising you for your whole day ahead.

Ocean Breathing

  • Continue to breathe deeply as in your 3 part breathing.
  • Create a slight constriction at the back of your throat so you hear a HAAAAAA sound as you breathe in and out.*
  • Listen to the sound of your breath rolling in and out like an ocean wave or the sound of holding a shell to your ear.

*If you’re new to this breath practice begin by breathing in through your nose and out your mouth. Think about creating the HAAA sound like a big sigh, or fogging up a mirror, as you exhale. When you’ve mastered this close your mouth and continue to breath in the same way through your nose first on the exhale and then when you’ve got the hang of that on both the inhale and exhale.

count the breath

  • Breathe in deeply through your nose as you count to 5.
  • Breath out deeply through your nose as you count to 5.
  • Continue to breathe like this, making every inhale and exhale last for the count of 5.

Skull Shining Breath

  • Take a comfortable breath in through your nose.
  • Begin short sharp exhales out of your nose, drawing your belly in quickly as you breathe out to help fully expel the air from your lungs.
  • Your inhale is a passive reaction to this sharp exhale. As your belly relaxes the inhale will naturally follow.
  • Count 30 short, sharp exhales, take a regular breath through your nose, then repeat twice more.

This is the most energising breath practice out there! 

Breath Meditation

  • Let your breath flow naturally now with no effort at all.
  • Take your full attention to your breath.
  • Focus completely on your breath, letting everything else drop away.
  • Sit here in silent meditation for a minute or as long as you like.

How do you feel after trying these morning breathing exercises? Energised, uplifted, calm or relaxed? Leave a quick comment below and let me know. I truly love hearing from you.

Ready for a longer yoga practice? What would be SO cool is if you practiced these breathing exercises and then went on to do my simple morning yoga routine afterwards! Have a great day yogis and if you’re not already signed up to my newsletter to receive cool stuff like this every week, well, what are you waiting for! Click here to sign up right now.

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#2 This is referred to as Sitali Pranayama:

Sitali Pranayam is known to have a powerful relaxing effect on the body, while maintaining alertness. It is known to lower fevers, and aid digestion.

Sitali pranayama is a yogic breathing exercise that is designed to both calm the mind and cool the body. The term comes from the Sanskrit, sitali, meaning “cooling” or “soothing”; prana, meaning “life force”; and ayama, meaning “extension.” To practice sitali pranayama, the tongue is rolled and then the breath is drawn in through the tongue as if through a straw.

Sitali pranayama differs from many other types of pranayama that are intended to warm the body.

  • Curl the tongue into a ‘U” shape.
  • Inhale through the curled tongue.
  • Exhale through the nose. This breath is also used with Breath of Fire and with Segmented Breaths in some kriyas.
  • You may notice the tongue tasting bitter at first. This is a sign of detoxification and will pass.

Variation:

Inhale and exhale through the curled tongue.

Benefits of Sitali Pranayam:

  • Regulates digestive + sexual energy
  • Relaxes the body + mind
  • Cools anger + fever
  • Detoxifies
  • Brings concentration + clarity + calm

Your tongue may taste bitter at first — a sign of detoxification and purification. This is good! As you continue to practice, your tongue will become sweet.

The shifts you’ll feel after practicing Sitali Pranayam are profound, like stepping out of an old you and into a new, clear, purified self.

Learn how to practice the Sitali Pranayam 

Complete Breathing Technique

One of the most effective breathing techniques to lessen our anxiety is the complete breathing method, which we mentioned earlier. To do it correctly first we must be aware of the different types of breathing.

  • Place your hand on the chest and another on the belly. Through inhalation, you raise only the upper hand. Hold the air and expel it through your mouth to make it more conscious. Repeat a couple of times
  • Now, with your hands in the same position we will try to raise your lower hand the one on the belly but not the chest. Repeat a couple of times more.
  • Then, when inhaling, bring the air to the lower part and then to the upper part, causing the lower hand to rise first and then one on the chest.
  • When we have already mastered it, we will perform complete breaths making a slight pause between inhalation and exhalation. Each process of inhalation and exhalation should last about the same time.

Asymmetric breathing technique

Another breathing technique is by making the inhalation shorter and lengthening the exhalation. For example, breathing in at one time and exhaling in 5 or 6. This is particularly effective because our heart rate increases with inhalation and decreases when the air is expelled. In this way, by extending this expulsion we are enhancing those effects.

Resistance breathing technique

The resistance breathing technique consists in creating, a resistance when releasing the air. There are many ways to create resistance, for example by blowing air through your mouth with your lips together, hissing through your teeth, through a straw, or even through singing. We can emit sounds with the exhalation, like the Ohm syllable, or simply vibrating our vocal cords. This sound resonates our rib cage and our skull providing a very pleasant sensation.

Dynamic breathing technique

There is a type of breathing that requires some imagination but can become very relaxing. As you inhale, imagine a wave covering your body from head to toe. Look at the different parts of the body and relax them if you notice tension. When you release the air, imagine that the wave is retreating from head to toe.

How do we know that we are relaxing? If the relaxation is being effective, you may feel a kind of tingling or heat on your fingertips.

Breathing Techniques: Different types of breathing

Clavicular respiration

Because it is a type of shallow breathing, the ribcage does not allow the lungs to expand as much as they would in deeper breathing.

How do you know if you normally use this type of breathing? Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen and breathe normally. Which of the two hands rises? If the upper one rises, your breath is clavicular, if the lower one is abdominal. There are people which both hands rise, this means that the breathing is quite deep and could be adequate.

This type of breathing is inefficient because the greatest amount of blood to collect oxygen occurs in the lower areas of the lungs, which implies that you are getting little oxygen. This rapid and shallow breathing results in poor transmission of oxygen to the blood and therefore little nutrients to the tissues.

  • Advantages of clavicular breathing: This type of breathing provides us with oxygen quickly, and can be useful when we have to run to catch the bus.
  • Disadvantages of clavicular breathing: Oxygen supply is insufficient, and maintained over time can increase stress and make our brain and our body not functioning properly.

Diaphragmatic or deep breathing

Diaphragmatic or deep breathing, also called abdominal breathing, consists of bringing air to the lower part of your lungs, using the muscles of the diaphragm. You will see your abdomen rise, hence its name.

For many, deep breathing may be strange and unnatural. This may be because in our society it is desirable to have a flat belly, and for this, especially women, tend to retain their abdominal muscles and in turn prevent a deep breath. It also happens because of continued stress and anxiety that maintains clavicular breathing his abdominal contraction may also be due to stress and continued stress.

  • Advantages of diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing: This breathing technique allows a complete flow of oxygen to our body, allowing it to function properly. The heart rate goes down as does the blood pressure.
  • Disadvantages of diaphragmatic or deep breathing: This breathing technique has no disadvantage other than the need to learn it, since many people do not have it automated.

Thoracic Respiration

In thoracic breathing, the intercostal muscles intervene, and with it, the rib cage. Usually this type of breathing is done to make us aware of this part of the body. It is not used independently but rather as an additional phase for complete breathing.

Complete breathing

Deep or complete breathing requires the air entering your nostrils to fill the different areas of your lungs. When you breathe deeply your abdomen (or belly), your diaphragm rises and your chest. In the following section we describe in detail how to carry it out.

  • Advantages of Complete Breathing: This breathing technique provides the body with a superior state of calm and relaxation. Our body receives a large supply of oxygen, reducing our heart rate, blood pressure and blood cortisol levels, which increase anxiety symptoms when high.
  • Disadvantages of Complete Breathing: While deep breathing can be done automatically, complete breathing can’t since it is somewhat more complicated to perform if we are not used to it. This is part of the breathing exercises, as we will detail below.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is based on the idea that it’s hard to be tense when your muscles are relaxed. This exercise is performed by methodically tensing and relaxing 16 different muscle groups, one by one.

First, write down all of the muscle groups or make an audio recording of yourself saying each one, giving about 45 seconds in between each group to allow yourself enough time to get through the process. The muscle groups are: hands, wrists and forearms, biceps, shoulders, forehead, around the eyes and nose, cheeks and jaw, around the mouth, back of the neck, front of the neck, chest, back, stomach, hips and buttocks, thighs, and lower legs.

Once you’re ready, lie down in bed and try the technique:

  1. Breathe in and tense the first group of muscles for 5-10 seconds.
  2. Breathe out and quickly relax the muscles in that group.
  3. Stay relaxed for 10-20 seconds before moving to the next muscle group.

Repeat this process until you’ve gone through all 16 muscle groups. Once you’ve finished, focus on keeping all of the muscle groups relaxed as you drift off to sleep.

Self-Hypnosis

Self-hypnosis is similar to progressive muscle relaxation, with the added step of focusing on a specific thought once you’re fully relaxed. The idea is that progressive muscle relaxation puts your body in a hypnotic state, meaning you’re relaxed and more open to suggestion.

It can be helpful to decide on the suggestion you’ll use before starting this technique. Some people focus on a simple word, like “relax” or “let go”, while others may repeat a phrase like, “I’m relaxed and calm”. You can also record yourself saying these phrases and simply listen to them while you’re working through progressive muscle relaxation. There are also tapes and videos online with pre-recorded phrases for falling asleep.

Once you’ve decided on your suggestion or phrase, here’s how to begin:

  1. Get yourself comfortable and lie in bed.
  2. Move into a hypnotic state with a short period of progressive muscle relaxation, tensing and relaxing different muscles in the body.
  3. Once fully relaxed, slowly repeat your preferred phrase.

Once you’ve mastered self-hypnosis, try adding in other senses to your thought suggestion. Imagine yourself in a safe place and focus on relaxing sights, smells, and physical sensations around you. One common scenario is imagining yourself in a field of flowers, smelling lavender and feeling the warm sun on your skin.

Different Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing exercises run the gamut from fast and quick breathing “tricks”. Things you can use on-the-go, to long and complex meditations on the breath.

The thing to remember is that there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” exercise that you must know. Likewise, there are no stringent guidelines as far as “how to breathe” in your daily life.

Rather, proper breathing is something to be constantly focused on and improved upon. It’s a tool that one can harness in a variety of ways, to achieve a number of positive outcomes. Our breathing experts and yoga instructors are here to help you choose the right path for your goals and needs.

Breathing can be used for running and improved muscle tone and flexibility. There are breathing techniques that help relax the back. Still other methods use relaxing music to keep calm and reduce stress.

A Take-Home Message

Breathing is essential for life and so automatic that most of us take it for granted. However, the power of the breath cannot be overstated. It has the ability to help us heal mentally, physically, and emotionally and can improve many aspects of life if we take the time to pay attention to it.

From better sleep to improved cardiovascular function and mental clarity, practicing breathing exercises can have an amazing capacity to enhance many aspects of health and quality of life. So the next time you take an inhale, pause. Slow it down. Mindfully appreciate the exhale. The power to improve your life is inside you already.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises (PDF) for free.

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