Basic breathing exercises for Relaxation, Meditation, or to increase calm, focus and concentration
These can be done any time of day or night – before bed, upon waking, in the shower, at the supermarket – you name it! It is recommend that you find a relatively quiet time and place to begin with so that you can place all your focus on the task at hand. All of these can be done for a short or long period of time. Anything from 5-10 cycles/breaths to 5-10 minutes or longer if you have the time. The first 3 may be done with your eyes closed (if it is safe and convenient to do so), the fourth through necessity requires you to have eyes open.
Just Breathe: Observe your breath, don’t do anything to change it – the pace, the depth etc. Just pay attention to it, observe or witness how deep or shallow, how fast, whether you are breathing into your abdomen or your ribcage or your chest. Observe how your breath changes, how the air feels entering and exiting your body and how your body feels around your breath.
Inhale, Exhale: For a bit more focus, place your awareness between your eyebrows (the third eye) and breathe through your nose up to that spot, hold for a moment and exhale following your breath as it travels in through the nostrils to the third eye and from there down your nasal passages and out of your nostrils. It sometimes helps to visualise your breath as a cable car making its way up and down through the nose.
Left Side, Right Side: This can be mental, imaginary or physical. For the physical, practice placing your index and middle finger between your eyebrows and placing your thumb over your nostril, then breathe in. Hold the breath for a moment, lift the thumb and block the other nostril with your ring finger, breathe out of the ‘thumb side’ nostril. Breathe in through the same side, hold, lift the ring finger, and block the other side with your thumb, exhale out of the ‘ring finger side’, inhale on the same side, hold, lift the thumb, block the ring finger side and repeat the whole cycle over and over.
For the imaginary practice just imagine the breath moving up the right nostril, down the left, up the left and down the right alternating. This is a good way to practice if you have a blocked nose.
Thumb your nose: Place your hand out in front of you with your thumb sticking up to the ceiling. Imagine your breath is a string attached to your thumb and as you breathe in through your nose your thumb is drawn towards your nose. Follow your thumb with your eyes. As you breathe out push your thumb away from your nose to its starting position out in front of you also following your thumb with your eyes.