Meditation and breathing exercises are two separate practices, with a slight difference between them. Breathing exercises focus on manipulating and changing the breath whereas in meditation, depending on the type, there’s no strict pattern the breath must follow. Meditation simply asks us to notice our breathing and the thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations we experience as they come and go.
Since breathing exercises include direct manipulation of breath, the effects are instant and can be different than those of meditation. Breathing exercises help us to regulate the nervous system, which impacts our bodies. For example, longer exhales can create calm within our bodies and minds by activating our parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s rest and digestive response.
Even though breathing is one of the most important things we do every day, we often do it without thinking about it. Our breath has a crucial effect on our physical and mental health. The pattern of our breathing is not always the same, sometimes being shallow or deep, rapid or slow, and so on.
Here are some breathing techniques!
In order to practice breathing exercises, you have to carve out time in our day to do so. However, if you’re too overwhelmed by what’s already on your to-do list, you can always try taking a quick break instead of spending a long time practicing. Breathing breaks can be 1 to 5 minutes and even longer depending on your schedule. No matter the length, you'll definitely feel the difference afterward!
Whenever you feel a need to slow down, there are few things that you can try. First, pay attention to the sensations of breath in your body. Whether it’s shallow or deep, rapid or slow, you can notice and change the course of your breath to give your body what it needs.
You can also close your eyes and count your breaths. Inhale as you count to 4 and hold your breath for 2 counts. Then, exhale as you count to 4. This short little breathing exercise can create calm and relax your body by focusing solely on the power of your own breath.