Take a deep breath, expanding your belly
Pause for 4 seconds
Exhale slowly and deeply to the count of five.
Repeat four times.
Congratulations. You’ve just calmed your nervous system.
This breathing technique is called controlled breathing.
Controlled breathing has been proven to reduce stress, boost your immune system and increase alertness.
Controlled breathing has long been used in yoga and pranayama to improve concentration and increase vitality. Now there is scientific evidence that the benefits are indeed true.
Studies have found that breathing practices help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, depression, and attention deficit disorder.
If you’ve not tried controlled breathing before, here are 3 basic exercises you can start with.
3 Basic Controlled Breathing Exercises
#1 Coherent Breathing
In coherent breathing, the goal is to breathe at a rate of five breaths per minute. This means you’ll be inhaling and exhaling to the count of six.
- Sit upright or lie down, placing your hands on your belly.
- Slowly breathe in, expanding your belly, to the count of six.
- Slowly breathe out to the count of six.
- Practice this for 10 minutes a day.
#2 Rock and Roll Breathing
When you feel stressed, try rock and roll breathing. This technique has an added benefit of strengthening your core.
- Sit at the edge of the chair or in sukhasana (cross-legged position).
- Place your hands on your belly.
- As you inhale, lean forward and expand your belly.
- As you exhale, squeeze the breath out and curl forward while leaning backward; exhale until you’re completely empty of breath.
- Repeat 20 times.
#3 Energizing “Ha” Breath
If you’re feeling weak or tired, try this quick breathing technique.
1. Stand up tall, elbows bent, palms facing up.
2. As you inhale, draw your elbows back behind you, palms continuing to face up.
3. Then exhale quickly, thrusting your palms forward and turning them downward, while saying “Ha” out loud.
4. Repeat this 10 to 15 times.
Once you’ve mastered these 3 basic techniques, you can move on to more advanced techniques which we’ve covered in these articles below.
- Breathing Exercises for Insomnia
- Introduction to Pranayama: 3 Simple Breathing Techniques
- Viloma Pranayama: A Breathing Technique to Feel Calm and Free
- How to Practice Ujjayi Breathing Technique