It’s almost surprising how we’ve normalised the times we’re living through. We’re just wired to adapt; but it’s tricky to evade the stress, anxiety, and uneasiness gnawing away at us ever since the virus pervaded our borders. If you feel like you’re at a crossroads right now, and cannot decide how to placate your worries, incorporating these breathing exercises into your everyday routines can alleviate your concerns. Remember that breathing incorrectly can contribute to fatigue, panic attacks, and other emotional disturbances - since it upsets the levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the body.

 

01. Pursed lip breathing

Pursed lip breathing

This technique slows the pace at which you breathe, and delivers more oxygen to your lungs. In this way, your breathing is deliberate, slower, and intentional. Practice this exercise four or five times a day to get the pattern right. It’s a simple exercise that relieves anxiety, and is particularly beneficial for those suffering from respiratory conditions. You can do this during activities that cause shortness of breath - climbing, lifting, exercising.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position, and relax your neck and shoulders.
  2. While keeping your mouth closed, inhale through your nostrils for 2 seconds.
  3. Next, pucker or purse your lips as though you’re going to whistle or drink from a straw.
  4. Exhale slowly and steadily through your pursed lips for 4 seconds.

 

02. Lion’s breath

Lion’s breath

Lion’s breath, a form of pranayama, is associated with relieving tension in the chest and face, strengthening the lungs, clearing emotions, and energising you in the process. You can do this before or after an asana or at the end of your meditation practice - or on its own throughout the day.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position - cross-legged or on your heels.
  2. Place your fingers on your legs or on the floor. Turn them inward toward you, and spread them as wide as possible - mimicking a lion’s claws.
  3. Inhale through your nose. Ensure your mouth is closed.
  4. Open your mouth, and stick your tongue out down toward your chin.
  5. Exhale forcefully with a ‘ha’ sound. Feel the breath come from deep within and pass over your tongue. Make sure your tongue is out for the entire exhale.
  6. Breathe normally for a few seconds, and repeat the technique seven times.
  7. Conclude by breathing deeply for two or three minutes.

 

03. Breath focus

Breath focus

This technique enables you to focus on slow, intentional, deep breathing, and tune out distracting thoughts and sensations.

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit. You can lie down too.
  2. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths.
  3. Breathe in. While doing so, imagine that the air around you is filled with peace.
  4. Breathe out. Now, imagine your stress and anxieties leaving your body through your exhale.
  5. In the next round, use a phrase like ‘I breathe in peace’ as you inhale, and ‘I breathe out stress’ as you exhale. Visualise it happening. These focus words/phrases, along with the imagery, will relax you a little more.
  6. Continue this for about 10-20 minutes.