Crucial in the meditation process is your breathing. It helps in clearing the mind and relaxing yourself. Most importantly, it brings you back to your core and reduces stress. There are three highly underrated breathing exercises that will work wonders at moments when you feel that stress is getting into your nerves.
1. Stimulating Breath (aka Bellows Breath)
Mainly inspired by a yogic breathing technique, Stimulating Breath is about increasing alertness and stimulating your vital energy. The first step is to breathe rapidly through your nose, with your mouth in a relaxed state. Your inhale and exhale breathing should be done in equal intervals, at around three rounds for every second.
This is a quick breathing technique that will stimulate the movement in your diaphragm. Do this for 15 seconds at the first try, slowly increasing the time by five seconds, until you do the technique for an entire round.
2. 4-7-8 Exercise (aka Relaxing Breath)
This exercise requires no particular position, although it’s preferable for you to sit straight on your back. First of all, place your tongue tip at the ridge located behind your two upper front teeth. This will be the position of your tongue for the entire exercise. You will be inhaling and exhaling through your slightly pursed lips.
Next, exhale through your mouth as you make a whoosh sound. This is where the 4-7-8 come into play: you inhale quietly through your nose and count to four, then you hold it in for seven seconds, then exhale through your mouth in all eight seconds as you make a whooshing sound. Do this for four cycles.
This technique is considered as a natural tranquilizer, but you have to be careful not to use it too often or it will eventually lose its effectiveness.
3. Breath Counting
With this exercise, you must sit comfortably with your spine straight and head slightly forward. Then, close your eyes and breathe deeply and naturally. It’s as simple as inhaling then counting “one” as you exhale, inhaling again then counting “two”, and so on until you reach up to five counts. The limit is five times, and once you’ve finished, do it again but start at “one”. Remember: never count more than five. Do this for ten minutes. This technique, simple though it may be, will teach you the value of deep breathing and concentrating by never going beyond five counts and always being on your guard.