Breathing Exercises

Using breathing techniques can have one of the most immediate calming effects on the body. Our breath is our life force and it is always flowing in the background of our ups and downs throughout life. When we use our breath as an anchor within the body we can instantly come back to the present moment and help to release stress and tension to promote a more relaxed and centred feeling of wellbeing. Breathing techniques can reduce pain and lower your heart rate and blood pressure. They can be done anywhere so find a quiet spot, or hide in the bathroom and if anyone asks what you are up to – tell them you are doing essential maintenance!

The Simple Six Technique

  • Can be used anytime.
  • In moments of pain or anxiety simply breath in for a count of 6 & out for a count of 6.
  • Continue for 1 to 2 minutes.

The 4, 6, 8 Technique

  • This is good to use at night time if you are having trouble sleeping.
  • Breath in for a count of 4.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 6.
  • Breathe out for a count of 8.
  • Continue for 2 minutes.

The Relaxation Response

This is a really focused and simple breathing relaxation video. You will only need to watch it once then be able to achieve the same results anywhere.

Long Deep Breathing

There are many different types of breathing techniques that you can use for specific outcomes. One of the simplest types of breathing is Long Deep Breathing, which brings our attention to the journey the breath takes through the body. The beauty of Long Deep Breathing is that it can be practiced anywhere, lying down, sitting on a chair, on a train, or in a waiting room. It instantly calms the mind and brings awareness back to the body.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate Nostril Breathing – this type of breathing is a yogic breath control that can be done as part of a yoga practice or while meditating, it can also be practiced on its own to still the mind and help us come back in to the present moment. Alternate nostril breathing reduces anxiety, lowers heart rate and boosts our overall wellbeing. It’s safe for most people to practice and has many positive effects on the mind and body. Talk to your doctor before starting this practice if you have a medical condition such as asthma, COPD, or any other lung or heart concern.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your legs crossed.
  2. Place your left hand on your left knee.
  3. Lift your right hand up toward your nose.
  4. Exhale completely and use your right thumb to close your right nostril.
  5. Inhale through your left nostril and then close the left nostril with your third finger.
  6. Exhale through the right nostril.
  7. Inhale through the right nostril and then close this nostril.
  8. Open the left nostril and exhale through the left side.
  9. This is one cycle.
  10. Continue for up to 5 minutes.
  11. Always complete the practice by finishing with an exhale on the left side.

If you feel any adverse effects, such as shortness of breath, while doing any of the above the breathing techniques you should stop. These include dizziness, nauseous and feeling lightheaded.

Other 'General Wellbeing' Toolkits

You may be interested in our other ‘General Wellbeing’ chapters within the Wellbeing Toolkit: