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Introducing the basics of controlled breathing.

It might sound a little weird, but your breathing plays an incredibly important and central role in communicating to your brain whether you’re stressed or not. By controlling your breathing, by breathing the right way, you can shape the kinds of signals your brain is getting.

That can tell your brain to calm everything down, and that’s great for every part of your body and your health.

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Just 5 minutes

In spite of the importance that correct breathing plays in your overall health, and especially in your brain and mental health, it only takes 5 minutes of breathing to get lots of great results.

The more 5-minute breathing timeouts you give yourself throughout the day, the better. The good news is your body and your mind will love the results so much, they will constantly urge you, remind you, to slow down, pause for five, and focus back on nothing but your breathing.

A word of caution. If you have any medical conditions that might be impacted by changes in your breathing, make sure you talk to your doctor first.

General Breathing Advice

  • Give it time. You won’t necessarily get into the habit quickly or develop a comfortable technique quickly. But just a few minutes at a time and pretty quickly you should.
  • Sitting comfortably is the best way to breathe properly, although for some techniques it’s OK to lie down.
  • Keeping your eyes closed is also recommended simply because it helps you to shut out distractions and focus just on your breathing.
  • Ideally breathe in and out through your nose. Breathing in through your nose is believed to both help clean the air of any garbage that might be in it, like pollutants or allergens, and warm it up before it hits the lungs.
  • Relax and enjoy the few moments. Imagine all of your muscles, every part of your body is just sinking into the chair.
Types Of Breathing Exercises


There are lots of different breathing techniques to choose from, each with its own slight variation in benefits, and some with very weird names. Like lion’s breath, Ocean’s breath, or shining skull.

While it can certainly help to know all the different types of breathing, you don’t have to practice all of them. In fact, if you pick one good type of breathing technique and stick with it, it’s all you’ll ever need.

Here are some of the most common types of breathing technique.

Box Breathing

Sometimes known as 4-4-4-4 breathing, this is one of the easiest and most common breathing techniques. Breathe in slowly for a count of four seconds, hold your breath at the top for four seconds, breathe out for four, and hold your breath for four. Then start over again. After a while you won’t even have to count.

4-7-8 Breathing

4-7-8 breathing is similar to box breathing but as you can tell, the count is slightly different. Breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath at the top for a count of seven seconds, and then breathe out slowly for 8 seconds. As you can tell it’s focusing just a little more on holding and exhaling than inhaling.

And the reason for that is because the exhale, the out breath, plays a much more important role in sending healthy signals to your brain and calming everything down.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This is another technique that’s great for stress management and for lowering your heart rate, and involves breathing in and out alternately through just one nostril.

Close your right nostril with your finger or thumb and breathe in slowly through the other nostril, for a few seconds, and hold for a second.

Change fingers and nostrils, and exhale through the other nostril. So if you’re starting by inhaling through your right nostril, your exhaling through your left. For the next breath, you’re inhaling through your left nostril, exhaling through your right, and so on.

This can be a very challenging technique at first, so give it some time. It’s thought to be great for teaching you how to control your breath.

Pursed-Lip Breathing

This technique is great for stress and anxiety. Simply inhale through your nose for a couple of seconds, purse your lips as though you’re about to whistle, and exhale slowly through your pursed lips.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic or belly breathing is also one of the most popular types of breathing and the goal is to focus on breathing through your belly or diaphragm and not your chest. Filling your belly with air is much healthier than trying to fill your chest.

Then follow a breathing pattern like box breathing.

Long Exhaling

Longer exhalations is another great technique to help fight stress and lower your heart rate. It focuses on exhaling for longer than you inhale. And that’s very important in breathing because it’s the long exhale that sends a signal to your brain that everything is OK and that you’re not stressed.

Simply inhale through your nose for two to four seconds, pause for a second at the top, and then exhale slowly for four to six seconds. Ideally do this for 5 minutes but you can do it for as long as you like.

Lion’s Breath

This is a breathing practice from yoga thought to help relieve tension in your chest and face. Sit comfortably with your palms on your knees and your fingers spread wide. Inhale deeply through your nose and as you open your eyes wide, open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue, bringing the tip of your tongue down toward your chin.

Then tighten the muscles at the front of your throat as you exhale out through your mouth by making a long “haaa” sound.

Humming Bee Breath

This is also thought to help with relieving frustration, anger, and anxiety, and also help to reduce your heart rate. And it’s all about creating a gentle vibration as you breathe out.

Place your fingers against your earlobes as you inhale through your nose. As you exhale through your nose, hum gently. It’s thought that the vibration caused by that breathing and humming is pleasant to the brain.