Breathing exercises are a great way to meditate and reduce your stress & anxiety.
Imagine you are sitting on a beach. It’s a cool day and there’s a nice breeze. You slowly close your eyes and start to focus on your breathing and everything around it. You start to smell the sea in the air, the cool breeze and the feel of the soft sand underneath you. The more you focus on your breathing, and your body is responding to it, the calmer you start feeling. You stay present in the moment, appreciating the environment around you and instantly feel relaxed and let go of any stress and anxiety.
Breathing exercises help reduce stress and anxiety, promote mindfulness and balance yourself. What makes breathing meditation accessible is the simplicity and that it can be done anywhere. We will delve into 2 such breathing techniques that can help you reduce your stress and anxiety anytime, anywhere.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique
The 4-7-8 is one of the breathing techniques that is a powerful way to restore balance and harmony in your mind and body, particularly during times of stress and anxiety or when you’re struggling to sleep. Get into a comfortable position and then follow these steps:
- Inhale for 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds and
- Exhale for 8 seconds
- Repeat this for at least a minute to experience the effect
The technique is simple and involves exhaling more air than you inhale. This temporarily slows down the amount of oxygen going to your brain and other parts of your body and automatically slows down your heart rate and thinking. Since 4-7-8 breathing is also different from your natural breathing rhythm, it helps you to focus completely on your breath. As a result, this helps you be mindful and stay fully focused on the present. So, if you are having trouble sleeping, feel stressed or anxious, , or just want some peace of mind, give this breathing meditation a try.
A note – It is recommended that you do only 4 cycles of the breathing technique when starting out and slowly increase it to 8 times. Since this exercise provides quick relief and is not similar to normal breathing, you shouldn’t do it for too long. Listen to Evolve’ guided 4-7-8 breathing exercise.
The box breathing technique
Box breathing is a simple breathing technique involving slow and regulated breaths. It is also known as four-square breathing.
All you have to do is get into a quiet and comfortable place and follow these steps:
- Inhale for 4 counts
- Hold your breath for 4 counts
- Exhale for 4 counts
- Before you inhale again, count to 4 and repeat the cycle
You can repeat this exercise for 2-3 minutes or until you feel better. You could even reduce or increase the count from 4 depending on your comfort level. The count doesn’t matter as much as having a balanced breath cycle.
Very often, when we’re faced with stressful situations, we lose our natural rhythm and balance in our bodies and our thoughts. We stop thinking clearly, our heart rate becomes irregular, etc. Box breathing allows you to balance your breath, which brings balance to your mind and body. Try Evolve’s guided box breathing exercise!
Note for beginners
When you start these breathing techniques for the first time, it is normal to not be able to focus or follow it properly, or losing your flow. You may even feel a bit light headed or dizzy while trying them out.
Remember, it’s perfectly normal to and all you need to do is take a sip of water, stay seated for a minute and resume when ready. The more you practice, the easier the breathing meditation will get.
These breathing exercises are a great way to balance yourself, reduce stress and jump into the world of meditation and mindfulness. If you want to get started with guided meditation or meditation at home, look no further.
Evolve has specific breathing guided audios to help you practice mindfulness, improve sleep and focus and reduce stress and anxiety with light and joyful exercises. The Evolve app is now live globally on Android & Apple, click here to try for free!
Jash is an expert on mindfulness.