5 Breathing Exercises For Better Health

Take a deep breath and feel better.

By Steve Thio        13 July 2021

Stressed out and having problems sleeping? Your solution may just be as easy as adopting the following breathing ‘exercises’  for a few minutes a day. With the proper breathing techniques, you can actually feel better mentally and physically, helping with your overall sense of wellness.

If you have done meditation before, you would have reaped some of the benefits of these deep breathing techniques to lower your stress level and body tension. Here’s how you can achieve a healthier and better sense of well-being!

Calm Your Mind

This technique of ‘knowing your breath’ actually helps to calm your mind and relax your body. Take some minutes in your daily schedule to discover the benefits of this technique.

– Lie down or sit comfortably cross legged and close your eyes.
– Start off with normal breathing in and out.
– Follow this with a deep breath in and out. Take your time to breathe deeply.
– After about 30 seconds of this, continue with just the deep breaths in and out.
– Focus on your deep breathing and how your abdomen expands with each slow breath in.
– Feel the air flow in deeply with both your mind and body.

Conscious & Relaxed

Dr Andrew Weil, an American alternative medicine doctor, says the 4-7-8 breathing technique helps your mind and body to relax instantly. It is especially helpful if you’re feeling agitated or tense, and it supposedly helps you fall asleep faster!

– Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
– Place your tongue flat against the top of your mouth.
– Exhale completely and slowly through your mouth with a ‘shoosh’ sound.
– Follow with a deep breath in quietly through your nose with your mouth closed.
– Count to 4 while inhaling.
– Hold this breath in for a count to 7.
– Exhale completely through your mouth with a ‘shoosh’ sound for a count of 8.
– Repeat this breathing process 4 times.
– You can do this twice a day and after some practice, you can lengthen the process to 8 breaths per session.

For more information and videos, check out: www.drweil.com/videos-features/videos/breathing-exercises-4-7-8-breath

Right Then Left

Most yoga practitioners will know this technique – breathing through alternate nostrils. It’s simple, easy and you can do it anywhere! It helps reduce tension and calms and clears the mind for better focus.

– Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
– Start by exhaling completely.
– Use your right thumb to close the right nostril.
– Inhale through your left nostril.
– Use your finger to close your left nostril, then exhale completely through your right nostril.
– Repeat the process starting with your left nostril closed and breathing in though your right nostril.
– Do this for about 5 minutes.

Stretch & Breathe

For a great start to the day, perform this yoga-inspired breathing technique in the mornings which helps loosen up muscles and clear your mind.

– Take your time and breathe in deeply as you bend forward, with your knees bent and arms hanging relaxed by your side.
– Stay in the bent position for a second.
– Roll your body upwards as you slowly exhale, ending with lifting your head.
– You can slowly stretch and relax your limbs and muscles with each subsequent movement.
– Repeat the process.

Quick & Focused

To help energise your body, you can also do this yoga breathing technique in the morning for a few minutes.

– Sit straight cross-legged, close your eyes and relax your body and muscles.
– Breathe in and out quickly and repeatedly though your nose. Do this for about 15 seconds.
– You should feel your diaphragm expand and contract according to your breathing.
– Breathe normally for about another 15 seconds then repeat the quick-breathing process again.
– Do this about 8-10 times.

To harness the benefits from these breathing exercises, it’s best to do them daily and regularly. You can establish a routine or schedule and be disciplined about it. For newbies, there are quite a number of YouTube videos and apps to help you start off. 

For more information, go to: Breathing Exercise: For Health, Happiness & Longevity; 5 Breathing Exercises to Help You Relax in Under 5 Minutes; 4 Breathing Techniques for Better Health

Note: Do not attempt any of the suggested actions or instructions in this article without first consulting with a medical professional. 

Share your favourite breathing exercises at magnsman@sph.com.sg!