Consistency is key in incorporating breathing techniques into your routine. Choose a time to set aside about 10 minutes every day for breathing and mindfulness. We recommend first thing in the morning before even checking your phone so that your mind has not yet been crowded with thoughts and sensory overload. Stick to this every day no matter what, and plan a back up time if needed. Once you’ve picked your schedule, it’s time to figure out which type of breathing techniques work best for you.
The best way to know what works for you both mentally and physically is simply to try it. Test out one of the following breathing techniques every day this week, then move onto another style and see which you like better. Some techniques may be tough at first and get easier as you do them, so stick with it for at least a few days before deciding it isn’t for you. Here are some different types of breathing techniques to begin with:
Counting Your Breaths
This one is simple and straightforward. Breath in for 1…2…3…4…5…6… and out for 6 counts, then repeat. Do this exercise for 5-10 minutes. The purpose of this is to focus on your breath and nothing else, simply think about the numbers and you will simultaneously become calmer and create a stronger mind-body connection.
The Wim Hof Method
This breathing technique involves taking extremely deep inhales through the nose and unforced exhales through the mouth for 30-40 rounds, followed by holding your breath for a minute or more until you feel the urge to breathe. The purpose is to induce a voluntary short term stress response, which helps your body learn to better manage and respond to everyday stressors.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Begin by emptying out all your air, then cover your right nostril with your right thumb. Breathe in through your left nostril, then close your left nostril with your pinky finger. Open the right nostril again to exhale through this side. Inhale through the right side, close this nostril, then exhale through your left. This is one round, so repeat this for at least 5 minutes. This is a great way to clear your mind, bring awareness to your body, and reduce stress.
You may also hear this one called 4-part breath, box breathing, or 4x4 breath. They’re all the same, and they involve inhaling for 4 counts, holding your breath at the top for 4 counts, exhaling for 4 counts, then holding your breath out for 4 counts. Try this for a few minutes, and keep in mind that every round gets easier. This practice really helps to calm the nervous system, relax your mind and body, and take your mind off stressors.
For this technique, take a big inhale, open your mouth and stick out your tongue as far as possible, then exhale it out and make a “hah” sound. As you inhale, return to a neutral face, then do it all over again. This breath helps to ground you and provide you with strength and courage to overcome obstacles you’re facing, while also inducing calmness and focus.
These breathing techniques are just some that you may start with. As you advance your daily practice, you can try a multitude of different exercises and perhaps begin to switch it up daily or weekly!