The following breathing exercises have been arranged in a progressive order, each one helping you to build up awareness and strength to carry on to the next one.
You might want to start by doing the first one or two for a few sessions and then incorporate one more as you become familiar with the first steps.
Diaphragmatic breathing has many benefits that affect your entire body. It’s the basis for almost all meditation or relaxation techniques, which can lower your stress levels, reduce your blood pressure, and regulate other critical bodily processes.
1. Breath awareness
The breath awareness exercise is a simple introduction to your breathing pattern, which helps you to slow down and enter a relaxed pace of breathing.
Sitting in an upright position, or lying down on your back, find a comfortable position that you can sustain for a few minutes.
Release any unnecessary tension and gently bring your awareness to your breath. You only need to observe your breath; do not change anything.
Observe the movements and sensations in your body with each inhalation and exhalation. Let your attention travel with the air passing through your nose and throat to your lungs, feeling the expansion of the chest and belly.
Continue doing this for a few minutes.
2. Three steps to deep breathing
To experience deep breathing, first you will have to identify and experience the three types of breathing that comprise it. For this exercise, it is better to lie down on your back if possible.
Place your right hand on top of your navel and left hand on top of your chest. Start by observing the natural flow of your breath for a few cycles.
a. Abdominal breathing
With the next inhalation, think of intentionally sending the air toward your navel by letting your abdomen expand and rise freely. Feel the right hand rising while the left hand remains almost still on top of the chest.
Feel the right hand coming down as you exhale while keeping the abdomen relaxed. Continue to repeat this for a few minutes without straining the abdomen, but rather allowing it to expand and relax freely.
After some repetitions, return to your natural breathing.
b. Thoracic breathing
Without changing your position, you will now shift your attention to your ribcage. With the next inhalation, think of intentionally sending the air toward your ribcage instead of the abdomen.
Let the thorax expand and rise freely, allowing your left hand to move up and down as you keep breathing. Breathe through the chest without engaging your diaphragm, slowly and deeply. Your right hand should remain almost still.