Focused breathing is an essential part of meditating. Using certain breathing exercises and techniques before meditating can help you feel calm and more aware. There are many different types of breathing methods that can help calm the mind. These breathing techniques are a great way to get you in the right state of mind before you begin meditating. You can also use these breathing methods throughout your day to stay center and present. Let’s look at some of these helpful breathing techniques.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Pranayama breathing is the process of controlling the breath. There are many different types of Pranayama techniques. We will focus on alternate nostril breathing. It is a Pranayama technique that has been used for centuries. It can help to calm the mind and your nervous system. It is a good breathing exercise to start before meditating. I often use this technique before each of my morning daily meditations. Here is how to practice alternate nostril breathing.
- Sit in a comfortable position with your legs crossed.
- Place your left hand on your left knee.
- Lift your right hand up toward your nose.
- Exhale completely and then use your right thumb to close your right nostril.
- Inhale through your left nostril and then close the left nostril with your fingers.
- Open the right nostril and exhale through that side.
- Inhale through the right nostril and then close that nostril.
- Open the left nostril and exhale through the left side.
- This is one cycle.
- Continue for up to 5 minutes.
- Always complete the practice by finishing with an exhale on the left side.
Qi Gong is a century-old system of movement, meditation, and breathing to improve energy flow and health. Belly breathing is a very basic Qi Gong method of breathing from your diaphragm. This method is used to improve your health, calm the nervous system and increase your energy. This technique is explained by Bruce Frantzis of Energy Arts below.
- When you inhale, feel your breath come into your nose, down your throat and into your lungs and belly. Let your belly muscles expand to move your belly forward.
- When you exhale, let your belly return to its original position and relax. Do your best to completely relax your chest and not use any strength to puff it out when you breathe. You should have very little or no sense of air going into your chest.
First, practice by focusing on expanding and relaxing your lower belly. Your lower belly extends from slightly above the top of your pelvic area to your navel.
- When you can expand and relax your lower belly comfortably, turn your attention to moving the middle belly when you breathe, which for most people is more difficult. The middle belly extends from your navel to just before your diaphragm. Placing your hands on the lower, middle and upper parts of your belly as you breathe will give you clear feedback as to whether and how much your belly is moving.
- Finally, concentrate on expanding and relaxing your upper belly—your diaphragm and solar plexus—just underneath your lowest ribs. Try to have your diaphragm move downward as you inhale and upward as you exhale. This will help push air into the back and top of your lungs, parts that seldom get exercised. Eventually, you will be able to move all three parts of your belly in unison.
Deep breathing is probably the most basic and easiest type of breathing technique. It is a great way to relax and center the whole body. It is a quick breathing technique that you can do anywhere. Here is how you can practice deep breathing.
- By standing or sitting allow your chest to expand.
- Then take a deep inhalation through your nose. Let your chest fill with air.
- Hold your breath for a count of 5.
- Slowly release your breath by exhaling through your nose.
- Repeat till you feel relaxed. If you become lightheaded stop.
By using some of these simple breathing exercises you can help alleviate some stress and calm the mind. These breathing techniques are also great before and after your meditations. It can put one in a better state of consciousness. I hope you try to incorporate some of these practices into your daily life.