Do you want to learn what deep breathing techniques are all about? How to handle life’s stressors and hardships? Then you have come to the right place!
Deep breathing techniques introduction
Use breathing techniques to better handle life’s stressors and hardships. It may seem simplistic and even naive. After all, everyone breathes, right? And we all need to breathe all the time. We do it without even trying.
So, what could be so fantastic about becoming “better” at breathing with an exercise? Why would this help? In fact, the answer is quite simple.
These techniques are so effective at helping people deal with their problems and tackle adversities. It can be traced back to the principle of Occam’s Razor. It states that,
“The simplest solution is almost always the best.”
In other words: When life throws you for a loop, the best thing you can do is to go back to the basics. And you don’t get much more basic than abdominal breathing.
How can deep breathing help you?
Done properly and with varied approaches, breathing techniques can help nearly all aspects of your life. And it all boils down to inhale and exhale, in and out in the correct manner.
This is a free, fast, and efficient way to see positive results in both your physical and mental health. Here are just a few of the ways in which you’ll see improvement with these techniques:
Find it hard to calm down, even during your vacation or enjoying your weekend? These techniques can offer an immediate avenue to calmness and serenity.
2. Stress Relief
The stress of work, family, finances, and other responsibilities has a way of building up over time. Breathing techniques act as a release valve for this buildup of anxiety. Promoting improved mental clarity and a better work-life balance, resulting in relaxation.
Under stress you can often find it difficult to breath or that you experience heavy breathing. By using relaxation techniques and focusing on breathing you will be able to alleviate these difficulties. There are a lot of different breathing exercises for anxiety. If this is something you are suffering from, then this is for you.
3. Weight Loss
Studies show that weight gain is positively correlated with the buildup of daily stressors in one’s life.
The more stress you experience (and the less you worry about finding stress relief techniques), the more likely some people might be to put on excess weight.
The good news is that once you address the stress in your life it’s much easier to achieve and maintain a healthy, comfortable weight. Breathing exercise allows you to tackle unwanted weight without the need for fad diets or other weight loss gimmicks, an excellent stress management activity
To round off the list of core benefits, implementing a deep breathing technique has also been shown to help with sleep.
Those who have chronic sleep problems such as insomnia have been shown to benefit from slow, deep breathing before bed. Others who may only have occasional trouble sleeping have also seen improvement.
Different breathing exercises
Deep breathing exercises run the gamut from fast and quick breathing “tricks”. Things you can use on-the-go, to long and complex meditations on the breath.
The thing to remember is that there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” exercise that you must know. Likewise, there are no stringent guidelines as far as “how to breathe” in your daily life.
Rather, proper breathing is something to be constantly focused on and improved upon. It’s a tool that one can harness in a variety of ways, to achieve a number of positive outcomes. Our breathing experts and yoga instructors are here to help you choose the right path for your goals and needs.
Breathing can be used for running and improved muscle tone and flexibility. There are breathing techniques that help relax the back. Still other methods use relaxing music to keep calm and reduce stress.
There are a number of styles available. If you’re interested in finding a breathing exercise to help with a specific goal, here is a list worth referencing:
- Square breathing (box breathing)
- 4 7 8 breathing & variations
- Mindful breathing
- Paradoxical breathing
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Yoga breathing
- Belly breathing
- Ujjayi breathing
- Alternate nostril breathing
- Pranayama breathing
- Pilates breathing
- Holotropic breathing
- Wim Hof breathing
- Buteyko breathing
Breathing techniques summarized
Square Breathing (AKA Box Breathing): The Square Breathing exercise that follows a “square” framework. Breathe in to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 4, breathe out to the count of 4, hold to the count of 4, and repeat this breathing pattern.
4 7 8 Breathing & Variations: Breathing exercise developed by Dr. Andrew Weil. Breath in through your nose to the count of 4, hold to the count of 7, exhale slowly to the count of 8. Repeat.
Mindful Breathing: Deep breathing that promotes mindful awareness throughout each in and out breath, achieving mindfulness
Paradoxical Breathing: During normal or healthy diaphragmatic breathing, the diaphragm moves downward with each inhale. Paradoxical breathing occurs when the diaphragm (paradoxically) moves in the opposite direction (upward) with each inhale.
Diaphragmatic Breathing: Deep breathing exercise that promotes taking deep inhales through abdominal breathing. As opposed to shallow breaths from the upper portion of the lungs. With this technique, the diaphragm pushes downwards with each inhale, as opposed to upwards.
Diaphragmatic breathing also activates The Sympathetic Nervous System or the Fight or Flight Response.
Yoga Breathing: Coincides with one’s yoga practice. Each breath aligns with a posture and/or movement.
Belly Breathing: A form of deep breathing that promotes taking breaths from deep in the abdomen (diaphragm). With each breath your belly rises and falls.
Ujjayi Breathing: A type of yogic breathing pattern that translates as “victorious breath” and promotes the constriction of the back of the throat during nasal inhales and exhales.
Alternate Nostril Breathing: Relaxing technique that dictates breathing in through one nostril only, then out through the other, and vice versa.
Pranayama Breathing: Pranayama means “breath control” in the practice of yoga. Pranayama coincides with yogic movements and postures.
Pilates Breathing: Coincides with one’s Pilates practice. Each breath aligns with a posture and/or movement.
Holotropic Breathing: A breathing technique developed in the 1970s and used to achieve a therapeutic, altered state of consciousness.
Wim Hof Breathing: Controversial technique developed by Dutch extreme athlete “The Iceman” (Wim Hof) to help individuals achieve an altered state.
Buteyko Breathing: Breathing exercise developed by a Ukrainian medical professional to help those with respiratory conditions such as asthma.
Kapalabhati: Technique that uses an alternate breathing approach: Relaxed, longer inhales mixed with shorter exhale “bursts.”
Frequently asked questions about Breathing Techniques
What is the purpose of breathing exercises?
The exercise or breathing technique can help with a number of problems. They can help promote natural calm when you are stressed, angry, or otherwise upset.
They can help you stay composed when you are nervous. They can even help you concentrate when you’re at work (focus breathing). Also help you fall asleep when you’re tossing and turning.
How do you practice deep breathing?
The best way to practice a deep breathing exercise is to simply stop what you are doing. Close your eyes, relax your body, and take one deep breath in — from as low in your abdomen as you can go.
Breathe this breath in slowly, letting your abdomen get bigger and bigger. When you can no longer take in air, slowly begin releasing the air in an out breath. Repeat as needed.
Can anyone do these breathing techniques?
Anyone can use these techniques to reduce stress, help with anxiety, and sleep better. It is the best, safest, and most holistic technique for dealing with life’s stressors. It’s also free! You always have a breathing exercise with you, wherever you go.
Do breathing exercises help anxiety?
Yes. Breathing techniques and exercises calm you and help with anxiety by reverting your body to a state of relaxation. The best breathing exercises engage the diaphragm and focus on deep breaths that flow slow and steady.
How does diaphragmatic breathing reduce stress?
Diaphragmatic breathing reduces stress because it produces the opposite effect of “stressed breathing.” “Stressed breaths” or paradoxical breathing tends to be shallow, short, and fast.
This type of breathing only allows short bursts of oxygen to the body. Conversely, diaphragmatic breaths are deep, long, and slow. This allows more oxygen to flow throughout the body and slows your heart rate, which calms your entire being.
“Breathe and let be.”
Download Your Breathing Techniques Infographic!
Written by Clint Johnson
Clint teaches Yoga, Pilates, breath, and mediation to students and teachers all over the world. Prior to joining the wellness world, CJ as his friends call him, started his career as a MBS derivative trader and portfolio manager on Wall St. Clint is the founder of Anahana, and holds an MBA from INSEAD.