Breathing exercises to calm the mind

Ana Taboada

As we all know, breathing is essential for life. We do not need to think to breathe, it’s something that happens naturally. But because it’s part of us, it does not mean that it’s something we do well, or that we get the best of it. In my opinion, what makes respiratory work so important is precisely the fact that breathing can be controlled , even though it is also automatic in us. That is, by training it through specific breathing exercises , we “educate” natural breathing.

Wrong breathing is one of the top 10 mistakes people make in the gym, and can have a negative impact on blood pressure, fatigue, and physical performance. See the other errors  in this article of the personal trainer Bruno Rodrigues.

Breathing is the bridge between body and mind

We can say that breathing is the bridge between body and mind (according to the Tibetan Master Tulku Lobsang) and as such it has the power to influence the state of mind and body . One influences the state of the other. Therefore, it is very important to have a healthy diet and an active lifestyle , as well as more awareness of our breathing and mind through breathing exercises and meditation. These 3 parts of us (breath, body and mind) influence each other, both positively and negatively. So if we want to have more balance, we have to give due attention to all parts of us.

The state of the breath can calm the mind

Through the state of the breath, we can know how our mind is. For example, shallow and / or accelerated breathing indicates that the mind is agitated, while deeper and more leisurely breathing suggests a more serene and focused state of mind. Therefore, we can and should do breathing exercises to achieve a more calm and focused mind .

Breathing exercises to calm the mind

Step one: learn to breathe properly

First and foremost, learning how to breathe properly by doing a full cycle of deep, conscious breathing is key. Follow the steps below:

Step 1: Inhale the air slowly and smoothly through the nose; 
Step 2: Feeling that the air descends up to 4 fingers below the navel. The lower belly should dilate / fill. The chest does not rise. (Note: here you should have one hand in the middle of the chest and another in the lower abdomen to feel better.) 
Step 3: Take a short pause in the breath (fractions of a second); 
Step 4: Expires through the nose even more slowly (about twice the time of inspiration). You should feel the lower belly empty; 
Step 5: Take a short pause in the breath (fractions of a second).

Breathing Exercises – Part 1: Counting Cycles

In this breathing exercise, you must count the number of complete breaths you have previously defined. Concentrate on each breathing cycle and your count until you reach the desired number. My suggestion is to start with eight breathing cycles .

Breathing Exercises – Part 2: Counting Times

In this exercise, you should focus on counting a set number of inspiration times, making one or two pause times, and doubling the number of inspiration times for expiration times.

For example: beads three times of inspiration, one or two pause times, and six times for expiration. Define that you will do this count, for example, for five minutes, and during that time you should focus on managing the air well to be able to inhale and expire completely at the desired times. As exercise becomes easier, you can increase counting times.

Tip: It is very important not to be tense during your breathing exercises . You can move and lengthen the head to eliminate any tension in the neck or throat.

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