TOP 9 Best Breathing Techniques For Meditation and Mindfulness

Breathing is the key to achieving mindfulness. It’s essentially why you feel significantly more amazing doing yoga than you do during aerobics; you’re controlling your breathing while treating yourself to all the benefits that follow a calm, steady stream of fresh air.

Oxygen revitalizes you, resets your mind, body, and spirit, and allows you to feel better. Combine that with meditation and mala beads, and you’ll feel reborn.

However, not all breathing is created equally. You likely learned this in your yoga classes. You have to teach yourself how to breathe properly in order to maximize the benefits, and there are several breathing techniques you can use, in particular, when meditating.

Here are some of our favorite breathing techniques we like to use when meditating with our mala beads.

The Common Yoga Breathing Technique
If you do yoga on the regular, you likely already know this technique as its most commonly used throughout different styles of yoga. It's often used to calm your breathing, so you can relish the benefits of fresh oxygen. To do this breathing technique, follow these steps:

Take a slow, deep breath in
Slowly let your breath out

Equal Breathing
A breathing technique that’s certain to help calm the mind, body, and soul is called equal breathing. It’s perfect for reducing stress, calming your nerves, and increasing focus, and can be done anywhere and at any time. Here are the steps for this breathing technique:

Take a slow to inhale through your nose for a count of four
Slowly exhale through your nose for a count of four

Count for Four
A common breathing technique for meditation is to simply count to four, then count backward from four, all timed with your breath. You can also use different numbers, depending on your preferences but as you’ll see in this post, a count of four seems to be the common denominator. Here are the steps:

Breath in – count one
Breath out – count two
Breath in – count three
Breath out – count forth
Breath in – count three
Breath out – count two
Breath in – count one
Breath out – count two

Abdominal Breathing
Abdominal breathing is one of the easiest breathing techniques, so it’s commonly recommended for beginners starting to meditate. However, it works for everyone and can be used in and outside of meditation, as it’s a powerful way to reduce stress at any given time. It also only takes a couple of minutes to do, making it perfect for any type of situation where you need to recollect yourself. Here are the steps to follow:

Place one hand on your chest
Place the other hand on your stomach
Take a deep breath in through the nose
Feel your hand on your stomach move as you inflate your diaphragm with air
Slowly release your breath

The Stimulating Breath
The Stimulating Breath is also called the Bellows Breath and it’s great for increasing alertness and energy. It can take some practice to perfect but once you do, you’ll feel invigorated and will become completed addicted to the way it makes you feel. Here are the steps:

Quickly inhale and exhale through your nose, as short as possible, ensuring the duration is equal for both
Aim to get three inhales and exhales per second
Continue for five seconds
Slowly increase your time throughout your practice until you reach one full minute
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Another common breathing technique used during meditation and yoga is the alternate nostril breathing – and yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Doing this technique allows you to reenergize your mind, body, and spirit. Here are the steps:

Plug your right nostril with your right thumb
Take a deep breath through the left nostril
Remove your thumb from your right nostril and plug your left nostril with your ring finger
Slowly exhale

The 4-7-8 Count
The 4-7-8 count, also known as the relaxing breath technique, is one of the easiest to do and as a bonus, the benefits are exponential. This exercise can quickly calm the nervous system, so much so that it can feel like your nerves have been tranquilized. So, it’s amazing for anyone looking to calm their mind or who suffers from anxiety or sleep insomnia. Here’s how you do it:

Rest the tip of your tongue at the top back of your teeth
Let out a deep exhale, along with a big sigh or whooshing sound
Close your mouth and slowly inhale through your nose for a count of four
Hold your breath for a count of seven
Exhale deeply and completely for a count of eight, being sure to let out a big sigh or whooshing sound

Skull Shining Breath
This breathing technique, also known as Kapalabhati, is a great way to shake off negative energy and warm up your mind, body and spirit. It can be used in the morning, prior to an exam, before your next yoga class or during meditation. Here’s how to do it:

Take a long, slow breath in
Quickly let out a powerful exhale from your diaphragm out

Mala Bead Breathing
If counting isn’t your thing or you’re simply too overwhelmed, distracted, or stressed to keep count, mala beads are the perfect solution. Traditionally, these meditation devices were used to track your breath, sans any counting. You simply move your fingers along the mala beads, one for each breath. The key is to choose the right mala bead for your intention, as the energy from the natural stone can further your meditation and relaxation. Here are the steps:

Choose a mala bead specific to your intention (reason for doing the breathing technique)
Hold the mala bead in your right hand
Drape it between your middle and index finger
Starting at the guru bead, move your thumb along each smaller bead, breathing in for each
Do this 108 times, until you’re back at your guru bead

Mala beads can also be used for every breathing technique mentioned.

Breathing is the easiest, most affordable, and inarguably, the most powerful form of therapy. So, choose a breathing technique and some mala beads that suit your needs, and reap the benefits of proper breathing.

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