How to Breathe Properly and What are the Basic Breathing Techniques?

Basic Breathing Techniques
Improper breathing causes cardiovascular diseases and nervous system disorders; hence, it is essential to reprogram our natural breathing technique. In this article on Buzzle, you will learn about a few types of basic breathing techniques, and also about the benefits of performing them regularly.
FitnessVigil Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Although all of us breathe air ceaselessly all our lives, there are only a few people who actually know how to breathe in the right manner. Breathing is one of the most important physiological functions performed by our body. Breathing properly enables us to get adequate supply of oxygen, and ensures our energy levels are always high. The body and mind are connected to each other, and it is said that breath acts as a bridge between the two. Hence, breathing has an effect on both the health of the body as well as the mind. Doing breathing exercises regularly can greatly improve ones health, and reduce stress and anxiety levels. It can rejuvenate ones whole body system, and deal effectively with the negative effects of stress on the body.

Before we learn about the breathing techniques, let's see the proper way to breathe normally.

How to Breathe Properly?

A normal breath cycle should consist of rhythmic, slow, and deep inhalations and exhalations.
  1. Inhale slowly and deeply by expanding your lungs and abdomen.
  2. Begin by first filling up your abdomen followed by your chest. Your shoulders should rise up a little.
  3. Now exhale slowly and completely. This completes one breathing cycle.
Try being conscious of your breath while performing your day-to-day activities, and breathe in this manner throughout the day until deep breathing becomes your habit.

Basic Techniques of Breathing

Here are some of the common and popular yoga pranayama techniques that you can easily practice on your own. Doing these pranayama exercises correctly and regularly can significantly boost your health and immune system, and keep you active throughout the day.

Bhastrika Pranayama: Bellows Breath

This involves breathing in through the nose and expanding your lungs to take in as much air as possible, according to your capacity.
  1. Inhale slowly and deeply by expanding your chest fully. While you do so, the chest should expand in the forward direction and the shoulder should rise a little.
  2. Without holding the breath, exhale completely in a smooth and slow manner, feeling more and more relaxed with each exhalation.
  3. Do not put any undue pressure or strain on the facial muscles, shoulders, or arms.
  4. Initially, perform 6 - 8 cycles of this breathing exercise, and gradually increase the number to around 20 cycles eventually.
This breathing technique is very helpful in rejuvenating and energizing the body and mind, and is especially beneficial in curing skin-related ailments.

Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama: Alternate Nostril Breath

This involves breathing with one nostril at a time, and exhaling from the other nostril alternately.
  1. Sit in a relaxed posture with your head, neck, and spine in a straight line. Exhale completely and close your right nostril using your right thumb.
  2. Take a deep and slow breath from your left nostril.
  3. After inhaling completely, close your left nostril using your middle finger, and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
  4. Keeping your left nostril closed, breathe in through the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. This would comprise one cycle of this breathing exercise.
  5. Repeat this breathing cycle 6 - 8 times, and gradually increase the duration and number of cycles over a period of time.
  6. Remember to always start this prayanama by inhaling through the left nostril.
This pranayama has a purifying and soothing effect on the nervous system, and is helpful in recharging the whole body, and correcting the energy flow in the body.

Bahya Pranayama: External Breath

This involves taking in deep breaths, and then exhaling and holding the breath out.
  1. Adopt any posture that you are comfortable with. Take a slow and deep breath.
  2. Exhale completely applying moderate force by contracting the abdominal muscles.
  3. Hold your breath for 4 - 6 seconds, and then inhale again.
  4. Initially, hold your breath for 4 - 6 seconds, repeating this cycle for 6 - 8 times. You can gradually increase the time of holding the breath to around 10 - 15 seconds.
This pranayama has many health benefits. It is helpful in the prevention and cure of constipation, acidity, and other digestive ailments.

Bhramari Pranayama: Bee Breath

This involves using your fingers to close your eyes, ears, and mouth simultaneously, and making a humming sound while exhaling.
  1. Sit or lie down in any comfortable posture, and close your ears using your thumbs.
  2. Place your first fingers on your eyebrows, and close your eyes using your middle fingers. Keep your mouth closed.
  3. Now take a deep breath and exhale slowly, making a humming sound like a bee.
  4. Feel the vibrations of this sound in your head and entire body, while feeling relaxed and relieved of all tensions in your body. Repeat this cycle around 8 - 10 times.
This breathing exercise relaxes your whole body and mind, and has a positive impact on the glands of the head.

Benefits of Breathing Exercises

Breathing correctly and doing breathing exercises regularly over a long period of time can increase your lifespan, keep you disease-free, and improve the quality of your life. Here are some more benefits of performing breathing exercises:
  • Breathing is one of the most important ways for the body to release its toxins. Correct breathing helps release toxins and detoxify the body more efficiently.
  • Breathing exercises help keep you in a pleasant mood throughout the day, and help relieve stress, anxiety, and anger. It is one of the best ways to relax your body and mind.
  • It helps strengthen the immune system, as the body produces more hemoglobin to transport the increased amount of oxygen in the blood. It also improves the quality of the blood.
  • All cells in the body require oxygen to carry out their functions. Increased level of oxygen in the blood meets this requirement.
  • It improves the nervous system by providing more oxygen to the brain. It has a soothing effect on the nervous system.
  • It leads to better digestion and absorption of food, and helps in the bowel movement.
  • Good amount of oxygen helps in weight management, by helping to burn up the extra fat in the body.
  • Breathing properly speeds up the healing process in case of illness, and improves the capacity of cells to repair damaged cells and tissues.

The benefits of doing breathing exercises are endless. Also, the ease, comfort, and the sheer joy of performing these breathing exercises makes them an ideal way to begin the day.