In a previous article, we explored how breathwork can change us. What’s so fantastic about breathwork is how accessible it is. Anyone who breathes can practice breathwork! And you don’t need to pay for a 1-hour class to experience the benefits: just a few minutes of intentional breathing can already lift your mood.
Try for yourself! Below, we share some well-known breathing exercises. Perfect to practice during the lunch break at work or whenever you need a quick energy boost or patience reset.
Calming Breathing Exercises
Nadi Shodhana or Alternate nostril breath
Nadi Shodhana consists of breathing through one nostril at a time. It’s said to balance your yin and yang, the qualities of action and stillness.
Nadi Shodhana can help you get grounded, find balance and stay focused and concentrated. ’s ideal for calming down after a stressful moment or if you feel a bit anxious.
- Close the right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril.
- Close the left nostril with your right ring finger. Exhale to the right.
- Keep your fingers as they are and inhale through the right nostril.
- Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Exhale through the left nostril.
That’s one round – repeat 3 times or more if needed. You can also experiment with retentions between the inhales and exhales to deepen the practice.
Box breathing is easy to remember: you inhale, hold your breath, exhale, and hold on empty lungs for equal counts. The longer the counts, the more advanced it gets.
Box breath can help lower stress, activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest), and calm your mind. You can do this convenient and discreet breathing exercise while commuting or being among people, as they won’t notice.
- Inhale through your nose for 4
- Hold for 4
- Exhale through your nose for 4
- Hold for 4
Repeat the cycle at least four times. As you get used to it, experiment with counting to 5, 6, 7, or more for each step.
Bhramari, or humming bee breath, is a breathing exercise shown in studies to increase nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a key molecule in many vital biological processes, such as healthy heart functioning, lower blood pressure, and a better immune system.
It’s a calming and relaxing exercise that is great for releasing stress and unwinding at night before bed.
- Inhale deeply
- Keeping your mouth closed, exhale with a humming sound, feeling the vibrations in your nasal cavity and mouth
Repeat for as many rounds as desired.
Energizing Breathing Exercises
Lion’s Breath helps you release tension and feel more alert. As opposed to some of the other exercises in this article, you might want to practice Lion’s Breath in private or around people you feel comfortable with since it includes making sounds and faces!
- Inhale deeply
- Hold for a few moments
- While exhaling, stick your tongue out as far as you can, and make a loud “HAAA” sound like a roaring lion
Breathe normally a couple of times and repeat until you feel relaxed. This is one of our favorite breathing exercises for letting go of a stressful day and anchoring into the present moment!
Kapalabhati is known as breath of fire – but the direct translation from Sanskrit is skull-shining breath. Perhaps because it’s said to cleanse your nadis, or energetic pathways so that you get radiant and vibrant.
Kapalabhati is an energizing exercise – it’s the breathwork equivalent of a cup of coffee. Practice in the morning or when experiencing an afternoon slump.
- Inhale deeply through your nose
- Exhale through your nose
- Inhale halfway
- Make short, forced exhales through the nose for a total of 30 exhales. Let the inhales in between come naturally
- Advanced practitioners can pump their navel toward their spine for increased effect
Feel free to try all the breathing exercises. Which one is your favorite?
Don’t hesitate to share this article with someone who might benefit from practicing breathwork!