When we begin meditating, drawing attention to the breath may quicken the breath or shorten the breath which is where different breathing techniques are valuable. These can teach us to accept the attention on the breath without getting overwhelmed.
Easy Breathing – This breathing technique is an excellent place to begin. Take relaxed inhales and exhales. Breathe in through the nose and out through the nose or through slightly parted lips. That is your Easy Breathing technique.
As I said previously, bringing attention to your breath might create a bit of an uneasy feeling making the breath short or taking the breathing off beat. To help with this issue, practice this simple internal monologue: I am breathing in. I am breathing out. Match this mantra with your inhalations and exhalations to create some “order” and some ease in your breathing.
Deep Breathing – Once easy breathing is comfortable, move on to Deep Breathing. This takes your inhalations and exhalations and exaggerates them in length. Breathe in deeply but without force through the nose. Breathe out through the nose (and out of the mouth occasionally).
You can continue to practice your mantra I am breathing in, I am breathing out during this technique if you like. As the length and fullness of your breath increases, you might find it more beneficial to internally count the seconds of your inhalations and your exhalations.
Ocean Breathing – To practice, breathe in through pursed lips as if sucking air through a straw. Notice how long the breath becomes, and exhale the same way noticing the length of the exhale as well. Repeat this a few times.
Once that is comfortable, close your mouth and breathe in through your nose as if your throat is the straw. Do this by constricting the back of your throat just a bit which will create an ocean sound in your head as you breathe. Again with a closed mouth, release the breath through the “straw” and out of your nose.
Once breathing this way through the nose (for both inhalation and exhalation) becomes easy, then you can try Ocean Breathing during meditation.
Do take your time. This breath is learned over time. Be patient. Alternate Nostril Breathing – Not everyday is stressless.
Alternate Nostril Breathing is an excellent technique to use at the beginning of your meditation practice if you are feeling anxiety, nervousness, or stress.
This technique might also take some time to become accustomed to, and you will need to clear your nasal passages prior to practicing this technique.
Curl your index finger and middle finger down on your right hand leaving your thumb, ring finger, and little finger standing. Press your ring finger against your left nostril closing it off and breathe in through your right nostril for about four seconds. Place your thumb on your right nostril closing off the airway, and hold your breath for one to four seconds. Release your ring finger and exhale through the left nostril. Close off the airways, and hold. Release your ring finger and inhale through the left nostril this time. Hold. Exhale through the right nostril. Repeat this pattern to your liking.
*Breathing techniques, like yoga practices, are personal and vary from practitioner to practitioner. Do not practice your breathing techniques while driving. If you begin to feel lightheaded, come back to your regular breath and take a break.