Mindful breathing is a fantastic exercise in it’s own right and a fundamental cornerstone of all meditations. There are lots of techniques to help reduce stress, calm down, relax, even to help you sleep. Here are a few easy breathing techniques for meditation for you to explore. Let us know which ones resonate best with you – or let us know your favourites we haven’t listed!
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky.
Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Equal breathing is a bit like counting sheep so is brilliant if you’re having trouble falling asleep or is equally as good to release anxiety.
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position and gently close your eyes.
Inhale through your nose for the count of 4, then exhale through your nose for the count of 4.
Thoughts will come but again, acknowledge them with a smile and let them float away, bringing your focus back to your 4 in and 4 out.
If you’re comfortable with this, maybe increase the inhale and exhale to 6-8 counts.
Box Breathing can be seen as an extension of equal breathing with pauses between the inhale and exhale. It’s a very deep breathing technique that has been shown to calm and regulate the autonomic nervous system and can help during extreme stress.
How do I do it? Take a deep breath through the nose while slowly counting to 4.
Then hold that breath inside for a count of 4.
Slowly exhale for a count of 4,
Then hold the breath inside again for a count of 4.
Repeat these steps at least three times or until you feel calmer.
Belly breathing is particularly useful when you’re experiencing (or about to experience!) a stressful event such as taking an exam. It can be quite hard to get the hang of this but keep practicing – benefits are said to include reducing heart rate and lowering blood pressure.
How do I do it?
Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
Take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing your belly (not your chest) to inflate with enough air to create a slight stretching sensation in your lungs.
Repeat 3 times.
Alternate nostril breathing helps you to refocus and re-energize.
How do I do it? Start by sitting in a comfortable, upright position.
Rest your right hand on your knee and use your left thumb to gently close your left nostril.
Inhale slowly through the right nostril, then close it with your ring finger.
Take a moment and then exhale through the left nostril.
Repeat this on each nostril 5 to 10 times.