1. Belly Breathing
Taking deep breaths with your belly instead of shallow breaths with your chest can supply your body with more oxygen. This method can also reduce the amount of effort your body makes to breathe.
To practice belly breathing, you can start by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position. Next, place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Take an inhale through your nose and feel the breath go all the way down to your stomach. Your belly should rise, but try to keep your chest flat. Then, engage your stomach muscles to help you push the air out and breathe out through your mouth. This type of breathing is both calming and restorative.
2. Lengthen Your Exhale
Taking long deep breaths signals to your brain that you are not in immediate danger. Historically speaking, if you have time to breathe calmly, you are probably not being chased by a tiger.
Taking a long breath inactivates your sympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of the “fight or flight” response. Exhaling activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you relax. So focus on taking a long inhale and an even longer exhale. Try inhaling for a count of 5 and exhaling for a count of 6. Practice for a few minutes at a time.
3. Lions Breath
Lions Breath is a breathing exercise often used in yoga practice. It reduces anxiety and soothes the nervous system.
Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. Take an inhale, and then exhale while making a “ha” sound. During the exhale, open your mouth as wide as possible, stick your tongue out and stretch it down your chin. Relax your face as you inhale again and repeat 6 times.
4. Alternate Nostril Breathing
Alternate nostril breathing is another yoga breathing technique. Loosely translated from Sanskrit nadi shodhana pranayama, it means “subtle energy clearing breathing technique.”
To practice alternate nostril breathing, sit in a comfortable position, and use your right thumb to close your right nostril. Inhale through your left nostril and hold your breath for a moment. Then lift your thumb off your right nostril, use your right ring finger to close your left nostril and exhale. While holding your fingers in the same position, inhale through your right nostril, let go of your left nostril, and use your right thumb to close your right nostril. Exhale. Repeat up to 10 times.
5. Guided Meditation
There are many guided breathing meditations available on apps like Insight Timer. You can use these to guide you through a practice to raise awareness and promote relaxation by focusing on your breath.
These meditations are wonderful, but if you want to get the full relaxation package, be sure to use some CBD before your practice. CBD has potential calming properties, so no matter which breathing technique you choose, you can count on an extra boost of zen!