Take a Breath: Two Breathing Exercises to Calm Your Mind

Published: May 21, 2020, at 1:31 p.m. PT

Last updated: July 6, 2020, at 2:55 p.m. PT

Man sitting on chair with closed eyes meditating

In times of stress, our breathing shortens and prevents us from experiencing relaxation. If we take a moment to pause and breathe deeply, then we can create a moment of stillness and welcome a sense of calm into our body and mind. Our breath is a powerful tool to use when our central nervous system is taxed. The next time you feel anxiety on the rise, try one of the breathing exercises below to experience stillness and to create inner peace.

Exercise 1: Three-Part Breathing

  • Find a comfortable space to sit or lie down.
  • Place one hand on your chest, near your heart. Place your other hand on your abdomen, near your bellybutton.
  • Close your eyes and visualize these three parts of your body: Belly, Ribs, Chest.
  • On an inhale feel your belly expand, your ribs broaden, and your chest lift.
  • On an exhale feel your chest lower, your ribs draw in, and your belly pull in last.
  • Inhale: Belly- Ribs- Chest, Exhale: Chest, Ribs, Belly.
  • Notice the movement of your breath beneath your hands as your inhalation rises upwards and your exhalation lowers back down.
  • Continue to breathe in this fashion for 3-5 minutes. For an even more meditative experience try doing your three-part breathing for 10 minutes.

Exercise 2: Inhale for 4 and Exhale for 6

  • Find a comfortable space to sit or lie down.
  • Close your eyes.
  • On an inhale count slowly up to the number four. (The counting can be done out-loud or silently.)
  • On an exhale count slowly up to the number six.
  • Inhale: Two-Three-Four, Exhale: Two-Three-Four-Five-Six.
  • If this deep breathing is hard to do at first, try reducing the inhale to a count of three and the exhale to a count of five.
  • Continue to breathe in this fashion for 3-5 minutes. For an even more meditative experience try doing this deep breathing for 10 minutes.
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