One of the major elements of meditation and yoga is breathwork. There are many ways it can help you rebalance your emotional state and it is a great addition to any wellness practice and self-care practice because you don’t need anything but yourself and some time.
From helping with anxiety to energizing you and renewing your spirit, you can heal through different breathing techniques. All you need to do is practice these different techniques regularly, to see their benefits. Of course, some techniques aren’t as well-known as others. So, here are a few examples of how you can heal through breathwork.
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One of the more common breathing techniques in meditation, mindfulness & yoga is the box breath. It’s called the “box” breath for a reason because each breath you take is made in equal measures. That means that every breath in means an equal breath out. Not only that, but every time you hold your breath, you hold for equal measures too.
Let’s practice. First, breathe in for 3 seconds. Hold that breath for another 3. Release that breath for another 3 seconds and hold for another 3 seconds. Then repeat. This is why it’s called box breathing. This type of breathing can vary, so you’ll find other measures like 4-7-8 or 3-6. These are different types of box breathing, but they are essentially the same. These types of breathing techniques help with relaxation, anxiety, depression, and even stress. This is a great technique to help calm and relax you, before a meditation session, or even to help with grounding yourself in the moment.
If you can’t sit still during a meditation session, try this breathing technique. Nostril breathing or controlled breathing helps not only to calm your mind but can also help with your physical health as well. It can help with hypertension and regulate your heart rate. Not only that but it’s been proven to change the activity in your brain when processing your emotions. Of course, it also helps clear the air passages in your nose and lungs too.
Nostril breathing is easy to understand. You simply alternate breathing in and out of your nostrils by holding your finger against the other. Let’s try it out. Hold your thumb against your right nostril, to close it. Breathe deeply through your left nostril for 4 seconds. Hold that breath, while you close that left nostril with your ring finger. Release your thumb from your right nostril and breathe out. And repeat. Of course, don’t forget to do it the other way as well, breathing in from your right nostril, and breathing out from your left nostril, to balance out the technique.
This type of breathing can confuse a lot of people, especially if they don’t fully understand the difference between diaphragmatic breathing and chest breathing. For the most part, we don’t notice where we’re breathing from. Normally, we breathe from our chest. This is actually a more restrictive type of breathing, and we don’t notice it. Diaphragmatic breathing is different. You breathe “through your belly”. What that means is it engages the diaphragm, which is located just beneath your ribs. By engaging the diaphragm, you actually feed more oxygen into your blood, thereby improving your physical health.
Of course, it can be difficult to know how to activate diaphragm breathing, but with practice, you’ll be able to tell whether you’re breathing through your chest or through your diaphragm. Let’s show you. First, start by holding one hand to your belly and one hand to your chest and breathe normally. If you can feel your chest moving up and down, you’re breathing through your chest. But, if you feel your belly moving in and out, you’re breathing through your diaphragm. It takes some getting used to, but the more you practice, the more you’ll start breathing through your diaphragm, even when you’re not concentrating on it.
If you practice yoga, you might come across the Fire Breath technique. It’s a technique that can help energize and increase your temperature, thus, the reason it’s called fire breath. It’s meant to help energize you so that as you flow through your yoga routine, you’ll be burning calories, similar to regular work. The fire breath is perfect for when you need a boost of energy, for example, when you’re feeling sleepy at work, or when you’re driving. This breathing technique can induce dizziness, so practice this technique moderately, and don’t overdo it, especially when you’re doing a yoga routine.
It is a quick-fire and rapid technique, and it can be advanced, so be sure you know how to regulate yourself when practicing this technique. It’s actually similar to hyperventilation, but it’s more controlled, and you can actively stop it. For beginners, it’s best to practice 10 breaths in 2 cycles and increase the number of breaths or the number of cycles, the more advanced you are. What you need to do is inhale and exhale quickly, through your nostrils quickly, without pause, until the 10 breaths are over. Use your core and the muscles in your solar plexus to help you breathe.
Lion’s Breath/Ocean Breathing
Like with Fire Breathing, if you practice yoga, you’ll also come across Lion’s Breath. This is a technique that should help you balance out your body after practicing inverted poses. So, usually, after doing shoulder stands, you might be directed to do the fish pose, and it’s in this pose you’ll practice Lion’s breath. Ocean breathing is a similar technique, but it’s much slower and longer than Lion’s breath.
Essentially, it’s used to help you relax, after a particularly rigorous yoga routine. To practice this breathing, all you need to do is to take a deep breath in and as you exhale through your mouth, make an audible “ha” sound. With Lion’s breath, you expel the breath quickly, with your tongue out and mouth as wide as you can. With Ocean Breathing, you can exhale slowly, and with time, you should be able to exhale with your mouth closed. Basically, try to sound like Darth Vader.
Practice In Moderation
Remember, as with all things, practice your breathing techniques moderately. If you overdo the practice, particularly with some of the more advanced techniques, you could cause yourself to become dizzy or even black out. Follow instructions carefully, and if you can find someone to guide you through those techniques, to help you better grasp what it is you need to do. Eventually, you will become more advanced, and you’ll be able to hold your breaths for longer, and subsequently, heal your body and your mind with these techniques.