Mindful Breathing Exercises

Breath, well-being and energy are intrinsically connected. Mindful breathing can be performed anywhere and anytime. It’s all about bringing yourself to the present moment and focusing on a slower deeper belly breath.  Relax and soften your belly.  A tight abdomen tends to lead to chest breathing which is excitatory to the nervous system.  Here we are looking for a calming effect.  The following are a couple of formal breathing exercises to get you started.

Equal Breathing Exercise

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, with your feet slightly apart, one hand on your abdomen near the navel, and the other hand on your chest.
  2. Inhale slowly through your nose to the count of 4, relaxing into and expanding your abdomen
  3. Exhale slowly through your nose to the count of 4, feeling the gentle contraction in your abdomen.
  4. Repeat for a total of 5 cycles.
  5. Increase your inhale and exhale to a count of 5 for a total of 5 cycles.
  6. You may increase the length of the inhale and exhale by one count every 5 cycles so long as it causes contentment without strain.  3-5 minutes is sufficient to see a calming effect on the nervous system.

Once you feel comfortable with the above exercise, you can try the following, more advanced, exercise.

4-4-8 Breathing Exercise

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, with your feet slightly apart, one hand on your abdomen near the navel, and the other hand on your chest.
  2. Inhale slowly through your nose to the count of 4, relaxing into and expanding your abdomen
  3. Hold the breath at the top of the inhale for a count of 4 or whatever is comfortable for you, never straining or going outside of your comfort zone
  4. Slowly exhale through your nose while counting to 8.  Gently contract your abdominal muscles at the end of the exhale.
  5. Repeat until you feel deeply relaxed or for a total of 5 cycles. At first you may only feel comfortable doing 1 or 2 cycles