Meditation breathing techniques are a splendid way to find stillness and soak in all the benefits of meditation.
Do you ever feel too stressed out to meditate? The thought of sitting still for twenty minutes is enough to awaken anxiety in many — including myself, once upon a time.
Even if you try to sneak in a quick meditation before bed, your thoughts might get the better of you, stopping you from surrendering to the practice.
The solution? A variety of meditation breathing techniques. I’ve tried many and talk about them more in my book, Get There! But you might wonder: what is the proper way to breathe while meditating?
That’s the beauty of the breath — it’s constant yet adaptable, and you can use it in many different ways. Today I will walk you through some of my favorite meditation breathing techniques and how to do them.
4 Meditation Breathing Techniques For Your Next Mindfulness Session
It’s time to find comfort in meditation. Trust me — once you get the hang of it, everything feels calmer. You will notice more beauty in the world; you’ll be less affected by external pressures and emotions, and most importantly?
You’ll tune into the sound of your inner voice to see a clear idea of what you really want in life.
The best way to get started? Meditation breathing techniques.
1. Cleanse Your Soul With Kapalabhati
Does your mind ever feel heavy with fog, making finishing a task feel impossible? Kapalabhati is the ultimate release.
The word Kapalabhati is Sanskrit for “skull” and “illuminating” — the etymology speaks for itself.
Ready to cleanse your mind from stress and negativity? Here’s how to practice Kapalabhati:
- Inhale normally through your nose.
- Sharply exhale through the nose, sinking your navel back toward your spine.
- Try it again – your inhale will become automatic and short as you focus on sharply exhaling through your nose every time.
- Repeat for 30 exhalations.
- End the session with one slow, deep belly breath.
You can get creative with visualizations while practicing this technique.
Personally? I think of things holding me back and imagine myself expelling them with every swift exhale. The little stresses shoot away with one or two breaths, while my major stressors need extra work – maybe the entire 30-breath session.
Medical experts describe the power of this purifying breathing technique on your psyche and physical body: You feel refreshed and clear.
I always feel empowered to get work done after a short Kapalabhati session. That’s because it’s proven to improve concentration and increase blood circulation.
But what if you crave zen breathing techniques to combat insomnia? Next, we’ll focus on one of the best breathing techniques for sleep.
2. Settle Your Mind with 4-7-8 Breathing
You may crave relaxation in a meditation session or when trying to fall asleep.
In my Stillness to Success Course, we cover many different breathing exercises for meditation. One client, in particular, loved learning about all the techniques and asked:
What is the most calming breathing technique?
The answer is easy: 4-7-8.
Her next questions: What is the 4 7 8 breathing method? Will it help me fall asleep?
Believe me, I’ve felt barred from solid meditation because I couldn’t silence my worried mind. But one of the 4-7-8 breathing method benefits is depleting negative thoughts.
I love this technique to soothe racing thoughts, find stillness, and fall asleep more easily.
Here’s how you do it:
- Exhale as much air from your lungs as possible.
- Inhale slowly through your nose for four seconds.
- Hold your breath for seven seconds.
- Slowly exhale through your mouth for eight seconds.
- Repeat until you feel calm.
Want to take 4-7-8 to the next level? Pair it with a mantra. Of all the breathing techniques for meditation, I find this one most effective when you repeat an empowering, personal mantra with every exhale.
3. Tune Into Yourself with Deep Belly Breathing
Do you ever feel self-conscious about your belly? Sometimes I suck mine in when wearing a nice outfit. Deep belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, encourages you to set your belly free. For a few moments, just let it hang.
Here’s how to get started with a deep breathing meditation:
- Inhale deeply through your nose.
- Instead of puffing out your chest, expand your belly as the air goes into your body. It’s OK to look a little bloated for this one!
- Exhale just as deeply, emptying your lungs entirely.
- Repeat and find a rhythm, pairing each inhale with an inflated belly.
What I love about this technique is its versatility. I find it among the best breathing techniques for stress because I can take a few minutes to do it anywhere. It’s also a superb way to settle into meditation.
But how does deep belly breathing help with stress?
Experts found in one diaphragmatic breathing study that deep breathing techniques decrease salivary cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone released when you’re stressed that increases your blood sugar levels.
The study also found lower respiration frequency for deep belly breathers— especially soothing for the rapid breathing accompanying anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
But deep belly breathing isn’t the only way to feel grounded.
4. Connect with Mother Earth through the Ocean Breath
Grounding helps you plant yourself in the present, taking you away from tomorrow’s worries. You might ground yourself with a soft blanket or walk through nature.
The Ujjayi (ocean breath) is an excellent grounding tool — one of the best breathing techniques for anxiety. Nature’s one of the most grounding settings. But maybe you don’t have a beach or forest to explore:
Bring nature to you.
This breathing technique strengthens your connection with the earth, as the sound of the ocean accompanies every exhale.
Here’s how to use Ujjayi breathing:
- Sit upright with your shoulders back and a straight spine.
- Inhale through your nose until your lungs are full.
- Hold your breath.
- Imagine you’re about to whisper — maintain that constriction at the back of your throat as you exhale through your nose.
- Listen to the sound of the ocean radiating from your breath!
- Repeat as needed.
Fun fact: Ujjayi is a top-tier meditation breathing technique for singers. It helps prepare the body for vocal activity and even assists with vocal rehabilitation.
Explore Meditation Breathing Techniques with Stillness
Meditation breathing techniques help you become comfortable with your practice while supporting your physical and mental health.
In my Stillness to Success course, we discover the many powers of breath and learn to leverage meditation breathing techniques to bring you closer to success. I love helping new students find their favorite methods and watching them harness their breath to dive deeper into meditation.
Meditation breathing techniques dance your sacred breath to life. Ready to awaken your breath? Sign up for my Stillness to Success course.