Breathing Exercises

26 May 2020

This week we bring you several types of breathing exercise. With more of us cooped up inside than usual, it is ever more important that we find ways of breathing deeply and mindfully. Personally, I have felt my home become more stuffy and close as the weather warms, and these exercises, done outside or even by an open window (I recommend morning or evening – it smells wonderful) have helped me alleviate that feeling and feel more calm.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Alternate Nostril Breathing:

  1. Take a comfortable and tall seat, making sure your spine is straight and your heart is open.
  2. Relax your left palm comfortably into your lap and bring your right hand just in front of your face.
  3. With your right hand, bring your pointer finger and middle finger to rest between your eyebrows, lightly using them as an anchor. The fingers we’ll be actively using are the thumb and ring finger.
  4. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out through your nose.
  5. Close your right nostril with your right thumb. 
  6. Inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily.
  7. Close the left nostril with your ring finger so both nostrils are held closed; retain your breath at the top of the inhale for a brief pause.
  8. Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side; pause briefly at the bottom of the exhale.
  9. Inhale through the right side slowly.
  10. Hold both nostrils closed (with ring finger and thumb).
  11. Open your left nostril and release breath slowly through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom.
  12. Repeat 5-10 cycles, allowing your mind to follow your inhales and exhales.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

  1. Try this while sitting first. 
  2. Place one hand on your abdomen. 
  3. Place one hand on your upper chest.
  4. Focus your breathing on your abdomen.
  5. Breathe in through your nose. 

As you breathe in, the hand on your abdomen should rise. Breathe out slowly through pursed lips. 

Roll Breathing:

  1. Try this technique while lying down first. 
  2. Place your left hand on your abdomen and your right hand on your chest. 
  3. Practice filling your lower lungs through your breath so that your left hand rises while your right hand remains still. 
  4. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. 
  5. When you have filled and emptied your lower lungs 8-10 times, try this additional step: Inhale first into your lower lungs as before, then continue inhaling into your upper chest. Your right hand should start to rise, and your left hand may fall slightly. 
  6. As you exhale slowly through your mouth, make a whooshing sound as first your left hand then right hand falls. 
  7. Practice breathing in and out using this technique for 3-5 minutes. Notice the movement of your abdomen and chest rising and falling in wave-like fashion. 

Warning: Some people get dizzy the first few times they try this technique. If you get dizzy or being to hyperventilate, slow your breathing and get up slowly.