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Mindful breathing is something we’ve all heard or come across. But what exactly is it? It’s basically a process through which we become aware of our physical and inner essence by concentrating on something as simple as respiration. When we become completely mindful and aware of our breathing, it helps us clear the stresses that plague us throughout the daily grind.

Image Courtesy: giphy.com
Image Courtesy: giphy.com

Psychiatrists such as Dr. Richard Brown (co-author of ‘The Healing Power of the Breath) even say that mindful breathing can help deal with digestive disorders and sudden occurrences like panic attacks.

Since breathing is so ‘automatic’, we often assume that we’re constantly aware of it. However, there are several well-defined techniques that can be used to practice truly mindful breathing. Here are 3 techniques we recommend you try out. Match your breathing to the visuals below:

 

1. Breath Counting:

As literal as it can get, this exercise is the most basic form of mindful breathing. It involves counting your breaths to a steady rhythm after setting a pace. Here’s how to do it:

  • Inhale normally through the nose and hold for 3 seconds
  • Exhale completely for 3-4 seconds
  • Set a rhythm by starting a count
  • Count the breaths you take in sets of 5
Image Courtesy: giphy.com
Image Courtesy: giphy.com

Counting beyond 5 may cause distractions you’ll probably find your mind wandering if you do. This breathing technique can induce a lucid, mellow transition into sleep. A 10 minute breath counting session does good for those with insomnia.

 

2. The 4-7-8 Technique

The ‘Relaxing Breath’, as it is often called, involves four simple steps:

  • Position your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
  • Inhale through the nose, hold it for a count of 4 seconds.
  • Hold in your breath for a count of 7 seconds
  • Exhale fully (with a WHOOSH sound) through the mouth for a count of 8 seconds.
Image Courtesy: giphy.com
Image Courtesy: giphy.com

As one regularly performs this technique, the pace at which one breathes can be increased. Feeling initially lightheaded is a possibility, but it can be solved by starting the exercise at a much more controlled pace. Increase the speed as you get used to this practice. This technique is like a mild tranquilizer to any stress signals that might pop up through the day.

 

3. The Bellows Breath:

Adapted from yogic practices, this breathing pattern involves rapid inhalation and exhalation from the nose. When practicing this form of breathing:

  • Tune into the rhythm of your inhalation and exhalation, and try to make sure that they are equal in duration.
  • Try to set a good pace (3 breaths per second is pretty good!), and
  • Don’t try it for too long if you’re doing it for the first time (you’ll be out of breath).
Image Courtesy: giphy.com
Image Courtesy: giphy.com

The rapid movement of the diaphragm caused by this technique increases alertness, and hence, this is a good way to avoid reaching for that unnecessary caffeine kick we often crave for at work.