How To Tuesdays: Techniques to improve your breathing

Last week we discussed the importance of breathing properly. The following breathing techniques will help you control your breathing and keep your body functioning properly.

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Take 5 – 10 minutes out of your day and practise each of the following on alternate days or times for best results. It is important to remember that some of these techniques will come easier to different people so do not always practise the technique that you find easy – challenge your lungs (and mind) as all the techniques have different benefits.

  • Equal breathing: Inhale for four counts through your nose and then exhale for five counts through your mouth. As you become more advanced, increase the counts for both the inhalation and the exhalation of breath. Repeat. This breathing is especially effective before bed time as it calms your mind and focuses your thoughts. 

  • Abdominal breathing: Place one hand on your chest on the other hand on your stomach. Take a deep breath through the nose, expanding your diaphragm and creating a stretch in your lungs (the hand on your stomach should rise above the one on your chest). When you exhale tighten your stomach, pulling your belly button back to your spine. Repeat. This technique is especially effective to relax before an exam or whenever you feel anxious or stressed.

  • Alternate nostril breathing: Sit in a comfortable position. Hold your right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril, then close off the left nostril with the index finger and exhale through the right nostril. Repeat through alternate nostrils. This breathing technique is great to practice in the mornings or as a mid-afternoon pick me up as it focuses and re-energises. 

  • Visualisation: Breathe deeply and mindfully whilst focusing on positive images to replace negative thoughts. Visualise where you want to be rather than focusing on a continuous stressful and busy internal dialogue. This breathing technique is great to practice at any time when your mind is overwhelmed.

After you have gotten used to breathing properly for at least 5 – 10 minutes a day, start incorporating these techniques whilst you are driving, sitting at your desk and exercising. Soon, you will be breathing properly for most of the day.

Do you have any breathing techniques that you practise?