Mastering the Art of Deep Breathing: 3 Techniques

AAmy August 31, 2023 9:26 PM

Deep breathing has long been a key element of wellness practices around the globe. Whether you're trying to calm your nerves before a big presentation, or winding down for the evening, knowing how to engage in deep breathing can significantly improve your health and wellbeing.

The importance of deep breathing

Before we dive into the specific techniques of deep breathing, it's helpful to understand why this practice is so beneficial. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. It also helps to improve your posture, reduce inflammation, and even boost your immune system.

Deep breathing techniques

While there are many different ways to practice deep breathing, here are three techniques that are particularly effective and easy to learn: Box Breathing, 4-7-8 Breathing, and Diaphragmatic Breathing. Let's explore each one in detail.

Box Breathing

Box breathing, also known as 'square breathing', is a simple technique that involves inhaling, holding your breath, exhaling, and holding your breath again, all for equal amounts of time.

Here's what a cycle of box breathing might look like:

  1. Inhale for a count of four.
  2. Hold your breath for a count of four.
  3. Exhale for a count of four.
  4. Hold your breath for a count of four.

Repeat this cycle for a few minutes at a time, and remember to breathe deeply into your belly, not just your chest.

4-7-8 Breathing

The 4-7-8 breathing technique, championed by Dr. Andrew Weil, is a bit more involved, but it's a fantastic tool for stress relief and relaxation.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth.
  2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a 'whoosh' sound, for a count of eight.

This completes one breath cycle. Aim to complete four breath cycles when you first start practicing, and gradually work your way up to eight.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as 'belly breathing', is a technique that involves breathing deeply into your diaphragm, rather than shallowly into your chest. It's a fantastic technique for relaxation and can be particularly helpful for those with respiratory conditions.

Here's how to practice diaphragmatic breathing:

  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
  2. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
  3. Take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing your diaphragm to inflate with enough air to create a stretch in your lungs.
  4. Exhale slowly out of your mouth.

Repeat these steps for a few minutes at a time, focusing on keeping your breaths deep and slow.

How to incorporate deep breathing into your routine

Now that you have three powerful deep breathing techniques in your toolbox, the next step is to incorporate them into your routine. You might find it helpful to schedule specific times for deep breathing throughout the day, or to use these techniques when you're feeling particularly stressed or anxious. Remember, the more you practice, the more natural these techniques will become.

Embrace the art of deep breathing and take control of your wellness. You'll be surprised at the difference it can make.

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