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Breathing techniques are a cheat code for less stress, reduced anxiety, increased focus, and better sleep.
Create a habit of using these 4 breathing techniques to change your life for the better!
I have practiced different breathing techniques for several years and here is my summary of the top 4 breathing techniques I’ve seen the most benefits from.
In this article, I will share my experience from practicing each of the 4 breathing techniques, as well as a step-by-step guide of how you can practice them yourself and tips on how you can build a habit of using them.
Take a deep breath and let’s get started.
1. Diaphragmatic breathing (For a relaxed body)
This breathing technique is a common practice within meditation and revolves around using your belly when breathing. It is flexible to use both in public and on your own.
I notice a better sense of control in my breathing when practicing this technique and have become more aware of which part of my body I breathe with, in my everyday life.
I get a feeling of being more centered and aligned with my body. My heartbeat slows down, my shoulders soften and my belly relaxes.
I use it most often when I sit down to work or study and my body and breath feel tight and forced.
- Lay or sit down comfortably.
- Put one hand on your chest and one on your belly, just below your navel.
- Breath slowly through your nose.
- Focus on expanding your belly outwards while keeping your chest still and let your breath go deeper.
- In the exhale, put your attention to the hand below your navel. Let the breath sink down to the lower parts of your body.
- Relax your hands and repeat the technique until you feel that your chest is completely still and all of your breathing is done by your belly.
Build the habit of using diaphragmatic breathing at the beginning of any work or study session to get a less tense and more relaxed body.
2. Box breathing (For increased focus)
Box breathing is about counting and controlling the inhale, hold and exhale of your breath.
It is super simple to use wherever you are and is great for improving your focus. The former Navy SEAL commander Mark Divine is one famous practitioner of this technique.
My experience of using box breathing is that my mind gets more observant and alert.
Counting the rhythm of my breath also helps get my focus back when I notice that my thoughts are wandering off.
I use this technique to get in a state of flow when I need to quickly regain my attention on a task after getting distracted.
- Breathe through your nose while counting to 4.
- Hold your breath and count to 4.
- Exhale through your mouth while counting to 4.
- Pause, hold your breath, and count to 4.
- Repeat 10 times or until you feel that your mind is only focusing on counting your breath and nothing else.
A great thing with box breathing is that you can adjust the rhythm that suits you the best.
The standard is a 4-4-4-4 count but you can change it to 5-5-5-5 count or even higher, depending on how comfortable you feel and how much of a challenge you want.
For further exercise you can even change the shape of the breathing, doing a 4-8-4-8 counting or a 5-10-5-10. You can also try to combine the box breathing with diaphragmatic breathing for a new experience.
Build the habit of using box breathing as soon as you feel tired or lack focus and want to get back in a state of flow.
3. Wim Hof breathing (For energy boost)
The infamous Wim Hof, also known as “The Iceman”, has his breathing technique which rapidly changes the chemistry of your body.
He has used this technique to accomplish 21 Guinness World Records such as the world’s longest ice bath and the longest swimming underneath the ice.
In his own words, Wim Hof describes his breathing technique as “getting high on your own supply”.
This technique is so powerful that I could comfortably say it has changed my life, in the sense of feeling less stressed, getting better sleep, feeling more alive and conscious throughout my day.
It is a bit exhausting to do and takes some time to get accustomed to, but it’s definitely one of the best habits I’ve ever integrated into my life.
Note: The Wim Hof breathing might make you a bit dizzy and light-headed. Only practice this technique in a secure place.
- Lay or sit down comfortably.
- Breath in fully for 3 seconds. Feel the inhale start from your belly, working its way up to your chest and head.
- Relax and let go of your breath, but not fully out. You want your inhale to be fully in but not your exhale. Keep a steady tempo in your breathing pattern. There should be no pause between the inhale and the exhale of your breath.
- Repeat 30 times or until you feel light-headed.
- After the last exhale you stop breathing and hold your breath for 60 to 90 seconds.
- After this, or when you feel the urge to breathe, take one deep breath in and hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Breath out and relax. This is one round of the Wim Hof breathing.
- Do 1 to 3 rounds depending on how you feel. The more rounds you do the greater the effect it will have on your body.
Build the habit of using the Wim Hof breathing in your bed to start your day in the best possible way. Do it on an empty stomach, right after you wake up or just before you go to sleep.
I can highly recommend his book “The Wim Hof Method” to get the full explanation.
4. Habithon breathing (For better sleep)
I found this breathing technique through a meditation practice. I have been using it for the past three years, but it is only now I’m officially naming it as “Habithon Breathing” – our own invention, designed to combine breathing and muscle relaxation.
This technique helps me release tension in my muscles and get kind of a floaty feeling in my body.
It takes a bit of concentration to do, but the more you practice it the better you will be at putting your attention to the parts of your body that you want to relax.
I’ve found it a bit easier to start relaxing smaller parts of my body, such as a hand or throat, before aiming my attention to larger areas like the belly or legs.
I use most often after a workout or when I’m lying in bed and getting ready for sleep.
- Lay or sit down comfortably.
- Breathe in deeply through your nose and focus on a body part which you want to relax. It could for example be your hands, throat, neck, jaw, belly och legs.
- Breathe out slowly through your mouth and imagine the out-breath going to that body part, warming and softening it.
- Repeat 5 – 10 times for the chosen body part, or until you feel it’s becoming loose and a bit detached from your body.
- Start with small body parts, like one hand or a part of your face. Continue with bigger parts, like your belly, chest, or lower back.
Build the habit of using the Habithon breathing in your bed, just before sleep, and when you have a tense feeling in your body.
We would love to hear your feedback from trying these 4 breathing techniques out. Which one is your favorite and what benefits do you experience?
Breath in, breath out and have a relaxing day!
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