For many of us, when we first learn meditation techniques, we begin with a focus on our breath with simple breathwork meditation. We pay attention to our inhalation and exhalation and whenever our mind wanders, we bring it patiently home – to our breath.
We work with our breath in meditation because it is so available and convenient. There’s no need to remember a mantra, or to hunt around for matches to light a ceremonial candle. There is just you and your body, aligned with the breath.
Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body. – Thich Nhat Hanh
Your breath can operate as more than a focus for meditation. It can have a powerful and instantaneous effect on your mind and emotions even as you go about your day.
There’s no need to wait for your allotted meditation time to experience the power of your breath. You can use the breath in the moment to bring relief and calm.
This Is How Breathwork Meditation Works
Recall a time when you experienced stress. You may have been anticipating a difficult conversation with a loved one, or maybe a business meeting where you expected to be challenged.
Driving to work, standing in a too long line – it’s all fodder for noticing your stress response. Maybe your heart begins to beat faster, you feel “butterflies” in your stomach. You experience a tightness in your chest.
Perhaps you begin to breathe more quickly. Most of these sensations can feel beyond your control.
But it turns out that these sensations are controlled by your vagus nerve, which is a long and complex nerve that runs all the way from your cranium to your gut.
The vagus nerve carries information back and forth from internal organs (especially your large and small intestine) to your brain and back. Disorders related to your vagus nerve can range from depression to colitis and Crohn’s Disease.
The good news? What feels beyond our control is actually manageable.
Research studies have shown that, by working with specific breathing techniques we can modulate our internal functions (e.g. gut, heart rate).
Use These 4 Breathwork Meditation Practices to Find Calm Anytime, Anywhere:
Following are four breathwork meditation techniques you can use before, during, and after a stressful event.
Before you begin, a note of caution: As with everything, it is possible to overdo.
Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again. – L. Frank Baum
If, at any time, you feel that you are getting too tight or constricted in your breathing – that you are trying too hard, just return to a normal breath.
If you are experiencing ongoing depression, anxiety, and/or intestinal pain or discomfort, consult a medical professional. These breathing techniques are just one part of an overall approach to your mental and physical health.
1. The Calming Breath
With this breath practice, you should feel an immediate sense of calm and relief. There’s no set amount of time for practice – continue the breathing as long as you feel you need.
Let’s try it:
- Begin by bringing your attention to your breath rate
- Then, slowly inhale and count as you do so
- Next, slowly exhale
- On your exhale, double the count of your inhale. So, if your inhale is three counts, exhale for six
- Repeat for three rounds
2. The Straw Breath
This simple breathwork meditation practice is easy to practice and offers immense results.
Let’s try it:
- Breathe in and out naturally
- Inhale slowly and deeply
- Purse your lips as if you are sipping through a straw
- Slowly and gently exhale through the “straw”
- There is no need to count
- Repeat for three rounds or more
3. 4-7-8 Breath
All this technique requires is counting your breath to find calm.
Let’s try it:
- Come to your natural breath as it is right now
- Breathe in for a count of four
- Hold the inhale for seven
- Exhale for eight counts
- Repeat for three rounds or for as long as you feel you need
4. Box Breathing
This pranayama practice is straightforward but its simplicity is also very powerful.
Let’s try it:
- Begin by breathing normally
- Inhale for a count of four
- Hold the inhale for four counts
- Exhale for four counts
- Hold your lungs empty on the exhale for a count of four
Breathwork Meditation Is a Powerful Tool – Use It!
Each of these techniques is a powerful tool you can use whenever you feel the need to relieve stress or if you are experiencing digestive symptoms.
As the saying goes – “Relax. Take a breath.”
Ready to Find Complete Calm Through Your Breathing?
Join Reiki master and meditation coach Carisa Banuelos as she teaches you three powerful forms of breathwork in the on-demand class Calm Mind on YA Classes by YogiApproved.
With Carisa Banuelos
20-Minute Class | All Levels