Since COVID-19 can make it uncomfortable to breathe, exercises to strengthen the lungs have gotten global attention. If you feel unwell, it’s critical to reach out to your doctor immediately. That being said, it’s never a bad idea to set aside time for breathwork and build stronger lungs in the process.
The Be Meditation team has outlined three breathing techniques to help strengthen breathing muscles and increase lung capacity below. These techniques can be woven into daily meditation and mindfulness practices or done on their own.
- Diaphragmatic Breathing: The diaphragm is a breathing muscle but many of us rely on our neck and back to do the heavy lifting. This simple exercise helps train your body to rely on your diaphragm to draw breath, and it’s such a great exercise, it has been incorporated into many meditation practices.
- Find a comfortable sitting position with a straight back, or lie on your back, and take a few natural breaths.
- Place a hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Inhale through your nose for a few seconds. Feel the air moving through your nostrils, and your stomach should expand while your chest remains stable.
- Purse your lips like you are drinking from a straw and exhale slowly, pressing on your stomach. Your chest should not move much.
- Repeat for at least 5 breaths.
- Alternate nostril breathing: Commonly used in yoga, this technique focuses on breathing through one nostril at a time. It promotes feelings of calm, increases concentration, and is a great tool to use throughout the day.
- Find a comfortable sitting position with a straight back. Take a few natural breaths through your nose.
- Use your right thumb to close your right nostril. Inhale slowly through the left nostril.
- Hold your inhale for a moment and close the left nostril with your ring finger, keeping your thumb in place so both nostrils are closed.
- Release your thumb to open your right nostril and exhale slowly.
- Now inhale through the open right nostril.
- At the top of your breath, hold both nostrils closed.
- Open your left nostril and exhale slowly.
- Repeat 5-10 times, focusing on your breath.
- Bee Breathing: This technique is ideal for slowing down the breath and releasing anxiety. Because you do make noise—hence the technique’s name—you may prefer to practice in a private space.
- Find a comfortable sitting position with a straight back. Take a few natural breaths.
- Inhale through the nostrils with your lips lightly sealed. Feel the back of your tongue rising slightly.
- Exhale slowly through the nostrils, making a buzzing sound—or the sound of the letter M—in your throat. It may sound like a bee buzzing, which is where this technique gets its name.
- Extend the bee buzzing or M sound on your exhale as long as is comfortable.
- Repeat at least three times, focusing on your breath and the sound in your throat.
Try these breathing practices and let us know about your experience in the comments below.