Helpful Breathing Techniques for Meditation

Helpful Breathing Techniques for Meditation


“Fight or flight” is often referred to as the stress reaction. It is what the body does when it prepares to face or avoid danger. When used correctly, the stress response may help us overcome a variety of obstacles. However, difficulty arises when this response is repeatedly triggered by less significant, day-to-day occurrences such as financial difficulties, traffic congestion, work concerns, or relationship issues. The stress reaction also weakens the immune system, making it more susceptible to colds and other infections. Furthermore, the accumulation of stress can lead to anxiety and despair. We cannot completely eliminate all sources of stress from our lives, nor would it be desirable to do so. However, we can cultivate healthy ways of responding to them.

Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist at Harvard Medical School, initially created the relaxation response method in the 1970s. Meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation can all help to induce the relaxation response, which is a state of deep slumber. Breath concentration is a frequent characteristic of many relaxation techniques. The first step is to learn to breathe deeply.

How to induce the relaxation response through deep breathing –

There are several ways that might help you reduce your stress reaction. Almost all of them benefit from focusing on the breath.

  • Progressive muscular relaxation
  • Mindful meditation
  • Practice yoga, tai chi, and Qi Gong, as well as pray repeatedly.
  • Guided imagery

The benefits of deep breathing

Deep breathing is also known as diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, or timed respiration. When you breathe deeply, the air entering in from your nose completely fills your lungs, and your lower belly rises. Many of us find deep breathing strange. For starters, body image has a detrimental influence on respiration in our culture. A flat stomach is seen to be beautiful, thus women (and men) tend to tighten their stomach muscles. This disrupts deep breathing and progressively makes shallow “chest breathing” appear normal, causing tension and anxiety. Shallow breathing reduces the diaphragm’s range of motion. The lower region of the lungs does not get an adequate amount of oxygen. This might leave you feeling short of breath and agitated. Whereas Deep abdominal breathing promotes complete oxygen exchange.

Read More: Mindful Movement: A Pathway to Inner Peace

 7 different breathing exercises to Practise 

1. Pursed Lip Breathing

This basic breathing method slows down your breathing rate by requiring you to exert purposeful effort in each breath. You can do pursed lip breathing at any moment. It might be especially beneficial for bending, lifting, and stair climbing. When you first start, practice this breath 4 to 5 times a day to ensure that you understand the breathing rhythm correctly.

To do :

  •  Relax your neck and shoulders.
  • Keep your lips closed and inhale softly through your nose for two counts.
  • Pucker your lips, as if you were about to whistle.
  • Exhale gently, blowing air through your pursed lips for a count of 4.
2. Diaphragmatic Breathing

It may also help relieve stress and address issues associated to eating disorders, constipation, high blood pressure, migraines, and other health ailments. Practice diaphragmatic breathing for 5 to 10 minutes, three to four times a day. You may feel exhausted at first, but with practice, the method will become easier and more natural.

To do : 

  • Lie on your back, knees slightly bent, head on a pillow.
  • For further support, lay a cushion beneath your knees.
  • Place one hand on your upper chest and one below your rib cage to feel the movement of your diaphragm.
  • Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling your tummy press against your palm.
  • Keep the opposite hand as motionless as possible.
  • Exhale with pursed lips while tightening your core muscles and holding your upper hand perfectly motionless.

To increase the difficulty of the workout, lay a book on your abdomen. Once you’ve mastered belly breathing while lying down, you may progress to sitting on a chair. You may then apply the strategy to your regular tasks.

3. Breathing Focus Technique

This deep breathing method employs focusing on  images or targeted words and phrases. You can select a  word that makes you happy, calm, or neutral. Examples include peace, let go, and relax, but you may choose any word to focus on and repeat during your exercise. You can begin by practising your breath concentration for 10 minutes. Gradually increase the time until your sessions last for at least  20 minutes.

To do :

  • Sit or lay down in a comfy spot.
  • Bring your attention to your breaths without attempting to modify how you breathe.
  • Alternate between regular and deep breathing a few times. Note any changes between normal and deep breathing. Observe how your abdomen expands with deep inhalations.
  • Consider how shallow breathing feels contrasted to deep breathing.
  • Take a few minutes to practice deep breathing.
  • Place your hand below your belly button, ensuring your stomach remains relaxed, and notice how it ascends and descends with every inhalation and exhalation.
  • Exhale loudly.
  • Begin practising breath concentration by combining deep breathing with images and a focal word or phrase that promotes calm.
  • You might imagine that the air you breathe sends waves of serenity and tranquility through your body. Mentally repeat, “Inhaling peace and calm.”

Read More: The Heaviest Meditation

4. Lion’s breath 

Lion’s breath is a stimulating  breathing technique that is supposed to reduce stress in the chest and face area. It is also known in yoga as Lion’s Pose or Simhasana in Sanskrit.

To do:

  • Get into a comfortable sitting position. You may either cross your legs or sit back on your heels.
  • Press your palms against your knees, fingers spread wide.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose and let your eyes widen.
  • At the same moment, expand your mouth wide and extend your tongue, bringing the tip down to your chin.
  • As you exhale through your lips, contract the muscles at the front of your throat to produce a lengthy “haaa” sound.
  • You can divert your sight to see the gap between your eyebrows or the tip of the nose.
5. Resonant Breathing 

Resonant breathing, also known as coherent breathing, occurs when you breathe at a pace of five complete breaths per minute. To attain this rate, inhale and exhale for a count of five. Breathing at this pace increases heart rate variability (HRV), decreases stress, and, according to one 2017 study, helps alleviate depressive symptoms when paired with Iyengar yoga.

To do:

  • Inhale to the count of five.
  • Exhale to a count of 5.
  • Continue breathing this way for at least a few minutes.
6. Sitali breathing 

This yoga breathing exercise lowers your body temperature and relaxes your thoughts. Slightly prolong your breath length, but do not force it. Because you inhale via your mouth during Sitali breath, you may wish to practice in an area free of allergies and pollutants.

To do:

  • Choose a comfortable sitting position.
  • Stick out your tongue and curve it to bring the outside edges together.
  • If your tongue does not do this, purse your lips.
  • Inhale via the mouth.
  • Exhale via your nose.
  • Continue to breathe like this for up to 5 minutes.
7. The humming bee breath [Bhramari]

The distinct sensation of this yoga breathing exercise promotes instant tranquility and is particularly calming around the forehead. Some people utilize humming bee breath to alleviate their stress, anxiety, and rage. Research indicates that it may help you lower your heart rate, think more clearly, and feel less angry or anxious. Of course, you’ll want to practice in an environment where you can generate a humming sound.

To do:

  • Choose a comfortable sitting position.
  • Close your eyes and relax your face.
  • Place your initial fingers on the tragus cartilage, which partially covers the ear canal.
  • Inhale, then softly push your fingers into the cartilage as you exhale.
  • Keep your mouth closed and generate a loud buzzing sound.
  • Continue for as long as you are comfortable.

You may want to experiment with several relaxation techniques to find which one works best for you. And if your favourite strategy fails to engage you or you prefer diversity, you’ll have options. You may try following a routine for yourself.

  • Select a unique location where you may sit (or lie down) comfortably and silently.
  • Don’t try too hard. That may only make you tighten up.
  • Don’t be overly passive, either. The key to activating the relaxation response is to transfer your attention from stresses to deeper, calmer rhythms — and having a focal point is vital.
  • Practice once or twice a day, always at the same time, to improve the feeling of routine and build a habit.

Read More: Building a Strong Mind: Practical Steps for Enhancing Psychological Resilience

 In conclusion, breath meditation serves as a gateway to mindfulness and stress alleviation, paving the way for increased cognitive function, emotional well-being, and general health. Individuals who include various breathing methods into their daily meditation practice can foster a sense of serenity, improve attention, and develop a stronger connection to the present moment. Adopting these beneficial breathing practices can result in a more thoughtful and balanced lifestyle, improving psychological resilience and inner tranquillity.

 References +
  • Cronkleton, E. (2023, March 24). 10 breathing techniques for stress relief and more. Healthline.
  • Harvard Health. (2020, July 6). Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response.

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