Mindfulness is a way of being that helps us focus on the present moment without getting caught up in our thoughts. Mindfulness Breathing exercises can help people cope with stress, anxiety, and other emotional problems.
What are Mindfulness Breathing Exercises?
Mindfulness Breathing Exercises or Pranayama is a Sanskrit word, with “pran” meaning “breath”, and “ayama” meaning “control”. Breath control—sounds simple enough right? Just learning to control our breathing. But many of us have a much harder time with our respiration than we may realize.
We rush from place to place, huffing and puffing, wheezing and panting. And as out of breath as we are, it often sends our entire body off-balance. You see, the quality of our breathing is much more important than we would care to admit.
Mindfulness Breathing exercises or Pranayama approaches the common practice of breathing as if it were an art form, utilizing many centuries of respiratory perfection. For much of this time, the art of breathing—as it were—was mostly confined to monasteries in India, it wasn’t until much more recently that this practice became known to the wider world.
Pranayama was intensely guarded in mystical circles as a secret art, with most Yogis (practitioners of Yoga) extremely reluctant to share their closely held secrets.
7 Mindfulness Breathing Exercises for Anxiety Relief
Mindfulness Breathing Exercises/Pranayama #1: Bhastrika Pranayama/ Bellow Breath
Sit in Sukhasan, and form the dhyana mudra with your hands and place them on your knees with your palms facing upwards. (‘Dnyanamudra’ is formed when you join the tips of your index finger and your thumb while keeping your other fingers outstretched.) Close your eyes. Inhale to your full capacity; hold your breath in for a couple of seconds, and then exhale slowly.
When you inhale, fill the air into your lungs and expand your chest while inhaling, and it will press your diaphragm down; Do not expand your stomach while inhaling. Concentrate completely on your breathing and pay attention to how you feel with every breath you take. Visualize, every breath nourishing all the parts of your body.
Perform this Pranayama for at least 3 minutes.
- This is a nourishing exercise, and it enhances your digestive capabilities and creates heat in the body.
- It helps in burning the excess fat.
- It helps in reducing the amount of phlegm.
- It is very effective in cases of Asthma.
- It strengthens your Lungs.
- It helps in purifying blood and facilitates efficient blood circulation.
Mindfulness Breathing Exercises/Pranayama #2: Kapalbhati Pranayama/Pranayama for forehead cleanse
Sit in Sukhasan, and form the Dnyanamudra with your hands and place them on your knees with your palms facing upwards. Close your eyes. Then, exhale quickly in a single stroke/movement. Your lungs will contract at that moment and your stomach will be sucked in. Don’t inhale purposefully; once you exhale rapidly inhaling will happen as a reflex. Keep repeating the exhaling action and with every breath that comes out visualize every impurity within, every toxic matter, and each negative thought being thrown out of your body.
- People suffering from back pain and waist pain should perform the exhaling motion a bit slowly.
- People suffering from Heart diseases should perform the exhaling motion slowly.
- Pregnant women should NOT practice this Pranayama.
Practice this Pranayama for 4-5 minutes at the start, but with regular practice gradually increase the duration to 12-15 minutes. (If at the start you feel tired after a few minutes, stop for a few seconds and then continue again.)
You will be amazed at the benefits of this Pranayama:
- It is very helpful in burning excess fat.
- It is very helpful in regulating your blood sugar levels and thus keeps diabetes in check.
- It is found to be very effective in clearing heart blockages in people suffering from arteriosclerosis. (but please perform the exhaling motion slowly)
- It maintains the health of your liver.
- It helps in getting rid of constipation.
- It is even observed that a regular practice of this Pranayama Cures Hepatitis.
- It reduces the amount of phlegm in your body and is also very helpful for patients suffering from Asthma.
- It is very helpful for people suffering from pollen and dust allergies.
- It is observed that a regular practice of this Pranayama reduces the size of tumors and cysts in the body. (There have been many cases where patients have reported that their tumors have completely dissolved due to a regular and disciplined practice of this Pranayama.)
- In women, it is found to cure any uterine ailments.
- It is even found to be extremely effective in curing skin diseases.
- It is very effective in curing diseases of the throat.
- It brings a peculiar glow to the aura of the practitioner.
Mindfulness Breathing Exercises/Pranayama #3: Bahya Pranayama/Exterior Pranayama
- Sit in Sukhasan, and form the Dnyanamudra with your hands and place them on your knees with your palms facing upwards.
- Close your eyes. Inhale to your full capacity; hold your breath in for a couple of seconds, and then exhale with a bit of force such that you are trying to empty your lungs rapidly. (It will make a screeching sound at the end of your exhalation) After complete exhalation implement the following 3 blocks Perform the ‘Muladharbandh’ (Pull in your anal muscles as if you are trying to hold in your bowels).
- Perform the ‘Uddiyanbandh’ (Pull in your stomach, as if you are trying to touch your stomach to the Spine).
- Perform the ‘Jalandhar bandh’ (Press your chin on your throat and look straight down). Don’t inhale for a few seconds, and then remove all the three blocks mentioned above and slowly inhale to your full capacity.
- People suffering from heart problems should not practice this Pranayama.
- People suffering from Cervical problems and Spondilitis should not implement the Jalandharbandh (3rd block)
No specific duration, but perform this Pranayama only 3-4 times.
- It strengthens your stomach.
- It enhances your digestive capabilities.
- It is very helpful for curing hernia.
- It maintains the health of your thyroid.
- It strengthens your lungs.
- Its most effective application is that it amplifies the effects of Kapalbhati Pranayama.
Mindfulness Breathing Exercises/Pranayama #4: Suryabhedan Pranayama/Pranayama of the Sun
- Sit in Sukhasan and keep your left hand on your left knee with your palm facing down. Close your eyes. Close your left nostril with the index finger of your right hand and inhale through your right nostril until your lungs are full. (Inhale with a bit of force, so that the air gushing in will make a sound) Once your lungs are full, hold the air in and perform the ‘Jalandharbandh’ [Neck Lock] (Press your chin on your throat and look straight down) as long as you can hold your breath in.
- Close your right nostril with the thumb of your right hand, remove the neck lock and exhale through your left nostril and apply enough force that your exhaling too will make a sound. This is one round of Suryabhedan Pranayama.
Initially do only 2-3 rounds or repetitions of this Pranayam. Increase it gradually to 10-12 rounds in one session.
- Regular practice of this Pranayama reduces the amount of cough and phlegm in your body.
- It is very helpful in removing toxic gases from your body.
- It generates heat within one’s body.
- It helps in blood purification.
- It enhances one’s digestive capabilities.
Mindfulness Breathing Exercises/Pranayama #5: Anulobh-Vilobh Pranayama/Pranayama of complete Detox
- Sit in Sukhasan, form the Dnyanamudra with your left hand, and place it on your left knee with your palms facing upwards. Close your eyes. Close your right nostril with the thumb of your right hand and inhale through your left nostril till your lungs are full.
- Then close your left nostril with the ring and middle finger of your right hand and exhale through your right nostril. Inhale back through your right nostril then close your right nostril with the thumb and exhale through your left nostril, then inhale back through your left nostril and exhale through your right nostril.
- Pay attention to it that, you inhale through the same nostril that you have used to exhale. And see to it that there is no hurry while doing this Pranayama. Be comfortable, and calm, and perform it slowly.
At first, perform it for 3-4 minutes, and then with practice, gradually increase the time to 12-15 minutes.
- It is the most effective detox exercise.
- It throws all the toxins out of the body through your breath.
- It is an excellent cure for hypertension.
- It is very helpful in curing ear disorders.
- When performed regularly, it prevents the occurrence of cancer.
- It is found to help cure leukoderma.
- It is very helpful in curing bronchitis.
Mindfulness Breathing Exercises/Pranayama #6: Bhramari Pranayama/Pranayama of the Hornet
- Sit in Sukhasan. Close your eyes. Then close your ears with your thumbs, place your index fingers on your forehead, place the remaining three fingers on your eyes and press the ridge between your eyes slightly with your middle finger.
- Inhale to your full capacity; hold your breath in for a couple of seconds. Then keeping your mouth closed, exhale slowly while making the ‘Aum’ sound (Om Chant). (This step creates a sound similar to the buzzing of a hornet’s wings hence the name.)
No specific duration. Repeat it at least 2-3 times.
- This Pranayama is extremely essential for maintaining the health of your throat and thyroid.
- It cures any hoarseness of voice caused by any illness.
- Regular practice of this Pranayama increases your concentration and also calms your mind.
- You’ll feel a soothing peace and calmness when you perform this Pranayama regularly.
Mindfulness Breathing Exercises/Pranayama #7: Udgith Pranayama/Pranayama of resounding Aum
Sit in Sukhasan, and form the Dnyanamudra with your hands and place them on your knees with your palms facing upwards. Close your eyes. Inhale to your full capacity; hold your breath in for a couple of seconds, and then exhale through the chant of ‘Aum’. Listen to this chant as it fills your surroundings with the sound of cosmic vibrations.
Repeat it 3-4 times.
- This Pranayama is very effective in curing any disorders of the throat, lungs, and upper chest.
- It maintains proper blood circulation and also helps in purifying your blood.
The Four-Step Mindfulness Breathing Technique
There are four steps to mindful breathing:
1) notice your breath
2) let go of judgment
3) accept what is happening
4) return to the breath.
The Three Second Mindfulness Breathing Exercise
This exercise will help you learn how to breathe more mindfully. You can do this anywhere at any time. Simply close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Notice where your attention goes during each breath. Does it stay focused on your body? Or does it wander off into thoughts? If you find yourself thinking about something else, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
The Five Minute Mindfulness Breathing Space
Once you’ve mastered mindful breathing, try using it as a relaxation technique. Start by sitting comfortably with your spine straight. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Take three slow, deep breaths. As you inhale, notice the air entering your nostrils. As you exhale, feel the air leaving your lungs. Continue focusing on your breath until you feel calm and relaxed.
The Two Minute Mindfulness Breathing Exercise
If you struggle with anxiety, you might find that practicing mindful breathing helps reduce stress levels. This exercise can also help you relax when you need to take a break from work or school.
The Breath Counting Mindfulness Exercise
To practice mindful breathing, start by taking three deep breaths. Then count each breath as one. You should breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you inhale, say “inhale” aloud. As you exhale, say “exhale” aloud, then repeat the process. Continue counting until you reach ten.
Also Read: 10 Buddha Quotes to Live By