Breathing exercises are crucial when you’re looking to make an instant positive change to your lifestyle. They’re essential to allowing our bodies to relax, recharge, and get ready for a new day. They’re also vital as tools for overcoming stress, reducing anxiety, and making sure your sleep is as good as it can be.
However, completing the exact same exercise every day can be a bit of a bore. The last thing we want is people to break their carefully cultivated habits out of boredom!
So, we’ve decided to showcase some more breathing exercises for you to try today with that in mind. If you’re currently using breathing techniques but finding yourself a little unmotivated, or you’re new to the whole “breathing for wellness” thing, then you’ve come to the right place!
In today’s blog, we’ll be showing you some of our favorite breathing exercises that you may have never heard of. Give them a try and see how you feel!
The Complete Breath
The “Complete Breath” or Dirgha Pranayama comes from the yogic practice of Pranayama and is a vital component of the yoga tradition. Dirgha Pranayama means “long” in Sanskrit and focuses on expanding the abdomen and chest area. Fundamentally, this exercise looks to calm the mind while developing an improved sense of awareness.
While lying down or sitting, place one hand on your belly and the other on your upper chest.
Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose, drawing the air into the lower abdomen and pelvic area, feeling your hand rise with the belly.
Continuing to inhale, feel the rib cage begin to expand outward as the mid-section of the torso becomes engaged.
Finally, draw the air into the upper chest and allow the collar bones to rise. Feel the hand rise with the chest.
At the peak of inhalation, pause for a moment, then exhale gently in reverse order, releasing the upper chest first, then the diaphragm and ribs, and finally the lower abdomen. Slightly contract the abdominal muscles to push residual air out of the bottom of your lungs.
After some practice, it should start to feel like a gentle wave motion.
Perform a few rounds, and then notice how you feel.
The Ocean’s Breath
Another Pranayama-based exercise; the Ocean's Breath, or Ujjayi, aims to soothe an anxious mind while developing a greater sense of focus.
Start by inhaling slightly deeper than usual. Exhale through your nose while constricting your throat muscles. If you are doing this correctly, you should sound like waves on the ocean.
Another way to get the hang of this practice is to try exhaling the sound “haaaaah” with your mouth open. Now make a similar sound with your mouth closed, feeling the outflow of air through your nasal passages.
Continue for 3 to 5 minutes or however long it feels comfortable.
The Energizing Breath
Finally, if you’re feeling a little sluggish or sloth-like and you’re looking for a little pick-me-up that doesn’t include a cup of coffee, then try giving the Energizing Breath a go. Like the previous two techniques, the Energizing Breath is Pranayama-based and known as Bhastrika in Sanskrit.
Start by relaxing your shoulders and taking a few deep, full breaths from your abdomen.
Now exhale forcefully through your nose, followed by forceful, deep inhalations at the rate of one second per cycle. Breathe entirely from your diaphragm and keep your head, neck, shoulders, and chest still while your belly moves in and out.
Start by doing a round of 10 breaths, then breathe naturally and notice the sensations in your body. After 15 to 30 seconds, begin the next round with 20 breaths. Finally, after pausing for another 30 seconds, complete the third round of 30 breaths. Beginners are advised to take a break between rounds.
As a note, the Bhastrike is a little more “intermediate” than our usual techniques, so it’s best to give this one a miss if you’re pregnant or have any underlying heart defects or hypertension.
For more information regarding how to manage your breathing for a more effective lifestyle, visit our other blogs here at The Exhale to get the latest tips and tricks. For free guided breathing exercises that you can take anywhere, try out the Breathwrk app here.
And remember: Breathe Better, Live Better.