Breathing is the most important part of meditation because it helps to take us through the relaxation phase. It does this by helping the body to relax. We need to breathe properly if we want to have a healthy mind and a healthy brain.
In this article, I will first explain benefits of deep breathing, provide some steps to start and five examples of breathing techniques
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Benefits of Breathing Techniques
Deep breathing is such a simple strategy not just in response to stress and difficulties, but to keep you relaxed as much as possible. Like every technique however, it requires practice and perseverance for you to learn how to get the best out of it.
When you are stressed, your automatic nervous system (ANS) – Sympathetic Nervous system responds by trying to prepare your body to respond. That’s why your digestive system slows down, your heart races, your body feels nervous and on edge as it releases hormones such as adrenaline.
Ideally, after the stress is over, the Parasympathetic Nervous System of your (ANS) kicks. We rest and digest where your heart starts to slow down, your digestive system goes back to normal and you feel at ease.
For many of us, unfortunately due to the amount of stress we experience and feel, our body’s rarely or never return back to how it should do.
- Deep, focussed and consciously helps you to relax
- Lowers your blood pressure
- Boosts your immunity
- It is a great “grounding” technique to help with moments when you are very anxious or having PTSD symptoms
- Lowers your heart rates breathing is a fantastic way to help us relax
How to start
For each one, it is important that you get yourself comfortable either by sitting in a comfortable chair with your back well supported and your feet on the ground. You can even try them lying down, just make sure that your back and neck is straight.
If you can, sit cross legged in the lotus position, if you are comfortable.
Or just sit on the floor with your legs straight out on a nice cushion
How to inhale and exhale
When inhaling, breath in through your nose.
When exhaling breath out through your mouth, just you are blowing gently through a small hole
What I’m going to do now is take you through five different breathing exercises:
- Deep breathing
- Deep Abdominal Breathing
- Alternate Nostril
- Breath Retention
- Heart Activation
They are all good. You can try them all then find out which one works best for you. You only need to try them for about five minutes each.
As I said, you only need to be doing each of these meditation breathing techniques for up to five minutes each. It might help to have a stopwatch with a gentle alarm
The main thing about this one is being aware of your breathing. .
You don’t need to do anything special but breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, deeper than you would normally.
Try to inhale through your nose, gently and deeply all the while focusing on your breath
Then exhale through your mouth also focusing on your breath
Deep Abdominal Breathing
I’d like you to concentrate on just deep breathing just breathing deeply and notice what happens in your body.
Take a deep breath
Notice your stomach expanding that’s because your diaphragm here just expands downward to allow all the air in and out pushes your stomach outwards.
And that’s what should happen when we’re doing deep breathing.
Just put your hand towards the lower part of your stomach – just below your belly button
I want you to concentrate on breathing into that area.
Just put a little bit of pressure not too much
So a nice deep breath in and then exhale all the way and then a nice deep breath in and exhale it out
All the way and one more one nice deep breath in breathing into the abdomen and exhale it all the way.
OK so now you’ve got the idea of what it feels like to breathe into that part the part just below your belly button when we’re breathing out we’re going to breathe out all the way and when I say all the way
Some people might do during any of these exercises might get a little bit lightheaded because what we’re doing is we’re oxygenated in the body properly. That’s not a problem if you get lightheaded. If you need to stop by all means stop.
But if you want to keep going that’s fine too.
If you like, you can try it 10 times here. We’re going to do 10 big exhales inhales and exhales first So are you ready.
You can count them out in your mind. There is no need to shut your eyes at this point.
Alternate nostril breathing
You might not want to do this if you have a bit of a cold or an allergy.
This is a great one to do that because the concentration needed in your mind to breathe in one nostril and breathe out one nostril and then breathe in the other and breathe out the other is quite a lot of concentration.
You can try just placing your finger on the nostril you are NOT breathing in if that would help.
It might seem strange to start with but with practice you can do it.
Just try now for ten seconds hold your finger on your left nostril and just breathing in your right nostril .
Now you’ve done that one try holding your finger on the right nostril and breathing in on the left nostril.
You can repeat this for five minutes
It’s kind of a strange sensation isn’t it kind of a strange thing if you’ve never tried it before
You can also try – holding your finger on your right nostril. Then taking a deep abdominal breath in then exhale. Do this again on the left nostril
Again you can repeat this for five minutes
As I said you don’t need to use your finger. If you can breathe in and out of each nostril on it’s own, that’s fine.
So breath retention is about as it can about oxygen eating your body is again about allowing your body
With your lips sealed. What we’re going to do this time is we’re going to take a nice deep breath in again into the abdomen area.
But then when we get to the end of that breath in we’re going to hold it for a count of eight and then we’re going to fully exhale again through your mouth and really blow everything out again.
Then we’re just going to repeat the process.
We’re going to do that just four times.
Another option would be to breathe in for the count of five – hold it for five seconds. Exhale for five seconds then hold for five seconds.
Again just do this four times.
Don’t do this too many times as it might make you light headed.
You can also be flexible if with the amount of counts you are inhaling, exhaling and holding your breath. If you need to go slightly lower, that’s fine. If you find that you can increase your counts and holds, that is fine also.
Heart Activation Breathing
After just 30 seconds or so of deep breathing (mentioned above) we’re going to switch to focus, breathing in and out through our hearts.
Now obviously physically we can’t breathe through a heart we breathe into our lungs don’t we.
However when you concentrate on it you can actually feel it. It almost physically feels like you’re breathing in through your heart by that breath of oxygen going through your heart and that breath out is passing through your heart.
What this does is focusing on a point is helps our mind and our body to know where we want to focus.
Now if it helps you can take your right hand and place it to the left hand side of your chest. We can slightly just put a little bit of pressure. Not too much just so you could feel yourself breathing in and out through your heart.
So let’s just get started now for breathing in and out.
Nice and deeply just start a nice deep breathing rhythm that nice rhythm that’s slightly deeper than you would normally breathe.
Available blogs on Meditation
Here are the five meditation breathing techniques for you. You might also find that you prefer just one of these, that’s fine. The most important thing is to do them regularly and consistently like anything, with practice you will get better at them.
I am a Therapist based in Sutton Coldfield, UK also available online.
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