Practicing these breathing techniques can change your life

A bold claim that isn't made lightly.

Sit for minute and breathe
Sit for a minute, and breathe. Pic: Akson

Breathing is what we do from birth to death. And we generally don’t need to think about it. At least, that’s the idea.

However, we really do need to think about it, for our health. Sadly, our breathing has predominantly changed from long slow deep breaths to short shallow ‘shoulder breathing’.

The good news, we can change this. And it isn’t difficult or time-consuming.

Breathing well encourages full oxygen exchange and can help immensely with a host of conditions, whether pain, depression or stress.

Breath slowly again and you’re telling your brain that you’re in a state of calm. Your body and mind respond accordingly.

Try these and choose one or two that appeal most to you. Aim to practice at least once a day.

One minute, six breaths.
Because making new habits is hard, start easy.

For this practice,  set aside just one minute to consciously take six breaths. This means that each breath should take about ten seconds to complete, in and out.

Use a timer or the second hand of a clock to keep track. If you’re new to this kind of practice, you may find that eight breaths in one minute are a little easier to start with.

Ideally, do this once in the morning after you’ve got up, once after lunch and once just before you go to bed. You’ll slow your heart rate down, help activate your thrive state and replace a lot of that bad information with good.

If you do this for just sixty seconds in the morning, you’ll start to become more aware of your breath for the remainder of the day.

3–4–5 Breath.

This exercise can be extremely effective for people who are prone to anxiety and/or stress. It could hardly be simpler.

Breathe in for three seconds, hold for four seconds and breathe out for five seconds.

When your out-breath is longer than your in-breath, you reduce the activation of your stress state and encourage your body to move into a thrive state.

You can do a few rounds of this breath or extend it to take five minutes. Listen to your body and see what works for you.

Box breathing.

This can be done at any time and it’s especially useful just before bedtime.

Breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, then hold for another four.

Box breathing helps lower stress levels, calm the nervous system and take your mind away from distracting thoughts. It’s reported that U.S Navy Seals use this method to control their stress levels.

Nadi Shodhan.

Alternate-nostril breathing can give a boost of energy as well as help you fall asleep.

Sit or lie comfortably, with your shoulders relaxed. Place your right thumb on to your right nostril to block it and fully exhale through your left nostril. Breathe in through your left nostril for a count of four. Place the ring finger and little finger of your right hand on to your left nostril to block it.

Release your right thumb and breathe out through your right nostril for a count of four. At the end of the breath, keep your fingers where they are and breathe in through the right nostril for four. Place the thumb back over the right nostril and breathe out through the left nostril. This is one cycle.

Start off by doing ten rounds. You can increase this as you become more familiar with the practice.

Breathing literally, is life. You can live yours better by practicing these techniques. Start today.

– Breathing techniques courtesy The Stress Solution by Dr. Rangan Chaterjee. Edited by Seated Massage.