5 simple breathing exercises you should try
Focusing on your breath can provide a serious dose of calm to both the body and mind, with benefits that last beyond the initial dopamine hit.
Best of all, you can practice many types of breathwork almost anywhere — a desk, the back of an Uber, a locked bathroom stall.
1. You need…energy
Before you reach for a coffee, try this dynamic abdominal breath exercise and wake up the mind.
- Sit in an upright position with your spine straight and your hands relaxed on your thighs.
- Take a long, slow inhale through your nose. Then exhale powerfully (also through your nose) while contracting your lower belly.
- Your body will naturally inhale again, so focus mainly on the forceful exhales as you continue this breathing technique.
- Once you’re comfortable with the abdominal contraction, practise for 15 seconds and then take a long inhale and let go with a big sigh. Then repeat again for 15 seconds.
2. You need…to focus
Finding it hard to focus and make important decisions? Try alternate nostril breathing to refocus and re-energise.
- Start by sitting in a comfortable and seated position on a chair, or cross-legged on the floor.
- Hold out your right hand and press the tips of your index and middle fingers into your palm, leaving your ring finger, little finger and thumb extended.
- Bring your hand up in front of your face and press your thumb on the outside of one nostril. Inhale deeply through your open nostril.
- At the peak of your inhalation, release your thumb and press your ring finger on the outside of your other nostril, then exhale. Continue for a few minutes before switching sides.
3. You need…to de-stress
This breathing exercise can help you feel calm and put the nervous system into a relaxed state.
- Begin by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position.
- Close your eyes. Press the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, slightly open your mouth, and exhale until you reach the bottom of your breath.
- Close your mouth and quietly inhale through your nose for four counts.
- Then hold your breath for seven counts. Exhale slowly and gently for a total of eight counts to return to the bottom of your breath.
- Repeat for four full breaths, and work your way up to eight breaths over time.
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