This breathing exercise is especially effective before bed. According to yoga instructor Rebecca Pacheco, it works similarly to counting sheep.
How to do it: Begin by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position. Your eyes can be open or closed. Inhale for 4 counts, and then exhale for 4 counts.
All inhalations and exhalations should be made through your nose, which adds a slight, natural resistance to your breath. Once you get these basics down, try 6–8 counts per breath.
Insights about breathing number counting
2. Abdominal breathing technique
How to do it: Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing diaphragm (not your chest) to inflate with enough air to create a slight stretching sensation in your lungs. Slowly exhale.
Insights around the so called abdominal breath with the C5 Squeeze and Breathe
3. Progressive muscle relaxation
How to do it: Close your eyes and focus on tensing and relaxing each muscle group for 2 to 3 seconds. Start with your feet and toes, and then move up to your knees, thighs, glutes, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw, and eyes. Maintain deep, slow breaths the entire time.
Having trouble staying on track? Psychologist and anxiety and panic specialist Patricia Farrell suggests inhaling through your nose, holding for 5 counts while tensing your muscles, and then exhaling through your mouth as you release those muscles.
Insights around mouth or nose breathing
4. Nadi Shodhana or “alternate nostril breathing”
How to do it:Start by sitting in a comfortable meditative pose. Hold out your dominant hand and press the tips of your pointer and middle fingers into your palm, leaving your ring finger, pinky 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, press your ring finger on the outside of your other nostril, and exhale.
Continue this pattern for 1–2 minutes before switching sides so that you inhale through the nostril that you originally used to exhale, and vice versa. Spend equal amounts of time inhaling and exhaling through both nostrils.
This exercise is included in our Optimal Breathing Kit
5. 4-7-8 Breathing or “relaxing breath”
How to do it: Begin by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position. Your eyes can be open or closed. 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 4 counts. Then hold your breath for 7 counts. Finally, exhale very slowly so that it takes a total of 8 counts to return to the bottom of your breath.
Repeat for 4 full breaths, and work your way up to 8 breaths over time. Insights about breathing number counting
6. Kapalabhati or “Skull-Shining Breath”
How to do it: Begin sitting in an upright position with good posture and your hands on your knees. Take a long, slow inhale through your nose. Then exhale powerfully (also through your nose) by contracting your lower belly.
This pattern will add to tension in the belly which is one of the main problem in relaxing and letting stuff go.