It’s becoming more and more common these days – every time you mention how stressed or overwhelmed or frustrated you feel, people tell you to try meditating. However, for a lot of people the very concept of meditating can seem overwhelming itself. Others consider it too vague or woolly to even consider it. This is why we would recommend any beginner to start with some simple breathwork exercises first. Breathwork is like Meditation’s cool aunt; it’s very accessible and you only need a few minutes to return to the present and feel better. Below, we’ve listed 3 super easy breathing techniques for you to try. Seriously, give them a shot – if you can breathe, you can do them.
Easy breathing techniques for beginners
#1. Breath awareness
The first one in our list of easy breathing techniques is essential if you’ve never tried breathwork before. It merely requires you to pay attention to your breath. So sit down comfortably, close your eyes to eliminate visual distractions, and simply focus on your breath. There is no secret to doing this properly, really – assuming you’re able to breathe on your own, you’re doing it right. Preferably inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, but the point is to keep your attention on your breath. If you want to step it up a notch, see if there’s anything you can identify about your breathing patterns, your rhythm, if you can feel your belly expand, etcetera.
#2. 2-to-1 breathing
This is my personal favourite of all easy breathing techniques. The idea is that you breathe in for the length of a number of seconds, and breathe out over twice the duration of the inhale. I like to do this one with a four-count inhale and an eight-count exhale. Once again, sit comfortably, close your eyes and lengthen your spine. Inhale through your nose while you mentally count to four. Once you’ve passed the fourth count, start exhaling through your mouth but make sure it’s slower than your inhale; your lungs should have emptied themselves once you reach the count of eight. Repeat this as for four to ten cycles (but always return to your normal breathing if you start to feel lightheaded).
Tip: If you find it difficult to stick with your own mental count, try doing this exercise with your eyes open while looking at a clock with a second hand. This will enable you to breathe along with the seconds. Once you get the feeling, you can go ahead and close your eyes.
#3. 4-7-8 breathing
This breathing technique is very similar to the previous one. The difference is the extra step in between your inhale and your exhale. So you breathe in through your nose while you mentally count to four. Then, at the top of your inhale, hold your breath while you count to seven. Once you reach seven, slowly exhale with slightly pursed lips while you count to eight. Your exhale should end on the eight count. It may require a little practice, but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough. The 4-7-8 breathing technique is one of the most popular easy breathing techniques. Various studies have shown it has an immediate positive effect on people with stress, anxiety and hypertension. It is also very effective to calm down your nervous system before you go to sleep. It is said that the technique becomes even more effective over time, if it is used frequently.
Got curious about mindfulness? Find out why intermittent silence may be the perfect way to meditate for you.