Breathe in and breathe out. Great, now do you feel better? Turns out, one of the most effective ways to boost your happiness and put your body and mind in a state of calm and relaxation is also one of the simplest – breathing. Breathing techniques practiced in yoga have been found to decrease stress, lower blood pressure and boost immunity. The best part? All you need is a pair of healthy lungs and 10 minutes or less of your time. Here are four expert-approved ways to find happiness using breathing techniques you can do anytime, anywhere.
Sama Vritti (Equal Breathing)
Sama Vritti is a basic breathing technique ideal for beginners. Known to calm the nervous system, increase focus, and reduce stress – equal breathing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to chill, stat.
How to do it: To get the balance you need in life, start with balancing your breathing. Simply, inhale for four seconds, then exhale for four seconds (this is all done through the nose and not through the mouth). Once you feel as though you’ve got this down pat, aim for six to eight seconds per breath.
When to do it: Anytime, anywhere. This technique is especially effective when you need to relax before bed, or just before a stressful situation. It helps you stay focused on the task without allowing your mind to wander.
Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
If you’ve never heard of Nadi Shodhana, then we suggest you get out from that rock you’ve been living under. This breathing technique is a yogi’s best friend – said to bring calmness, balance and unite both sides of the brain.
How to do it: Get yourself in a meditative pose, using the right thumb, softly close the right nostril, and inhale as slowly as you can through the left nostril. When you’re at your peak of inhalation, close off the left nostril with your ring finger, then exhale slowly through the right nostril. Continue the pattern, inhaling slowly through the right nostril, closing it off with the right thumb, and exhaling through the left nostril. Repeat this five to ten times.
When to do it: When you’re feeling the pressure, when it’s time to focus, or time to get energised.
P.S. It’s probably best to avoid trying this technique before bed. This exercise clears the airways and could make you feel more awake.
Kapalabhati (Skull Shining Breath)
Kapalabhati, pronounced Kah-bah-lah-bah-tee comes from two Sanskrit words: Kapala, meaning “skull” and Bhati, which translates to “light”. Put simply, when you practice this breath, you should try visualise your skull filling with bright light – that’s how it all came about. The technique helps release stress, toxins and negative energy from the mind and body, leaving it purified, rejuvenated and invigorated. It’ll sure brighten your day!
How to do it: We’ll warn you – this breathing technique is a little more advanced. Take a long, slow, deep breath, followed by a quick, powerful exhale from the lower belly. Once you’re comfortable with your breathing, up the place to one inhale-exhale (all through the nose) every one to two seconds, for a total of 10 times. Allow your breathing to come back to normal and observe the sensations in your body.
When to do it: When you’re feeling down, or when you wake up. It’ll give your abdomen a workout, but it’ll warm up your body, shake off the negative energy and wake up your brain – ready to tackle the day ahead.
Bhastrika (Bellows Breath)
Need a nice big energy boost? Enter: Bhastrika. This traditional breathing exercise helps increase the Prana (life force) in your being. Despite a whole bunch of positive benefits like stimulating circulation and improving eyesight and hearing, Bhastrika is used to energise the body and clarify the mind, leaving you feeling regenerated and rejuvenated!
How to do it: Stand up tall, and take a slow, deep breath in through your nose. Begins bellows breathing by exhaling quickly through your nose. Follow the pattern by inhaling forcefully for one second per cycle 10 times. Make sure you’re breathing from your diaphragm. Your belly should be the only thing moving in and out.
P.S. Listen to your body, if you’re feeling light-headed in any way, rest for a few minutes breathing naturally, then once you’re feeling back to normal, try it again a slower and less intense pace.
When to do it: It’s best to try bellows breath first thing in the morning, or just before a workout. Since it’s an energizing technique, it’s great to get your blood pumping so you’re focused and energised for the day!
P.P.S. You probably want to avoid practicing bellow breath close to bedtime.