Updated: Jul 27, 2021
Looking for a simple calming breath practice? This easy ritual can help you find calm at any time, anywhere.
We all know the importance of breath. We know that deep breathing affects us not only on a physical level, but also on a mental level. Even armed with this knowledge, few of us take the time to consciously focus on our breath on a day-to-day basis.
We typically have more “important” things to do. We have errands to run, assignments to finish, and people to see. We don’t have time for such “trivial” things as focusing on our breath. We’re busy—always very busy. But the truth of the matter is that, as our society culturally glorifies busyness more and more, we are becoming more and more stressed and sicker as a result.
With the rise of stress-related disease, utilising simple practices like pranayama (breathwork) or meditation can make a world of difference to our wellbeing. It’s more important now than ever to make the time for simple self-care practices like these to find calm within chaos.
Simple breathing practice to help you find calm
Pranayama has been shown time and time again to help stimulate the relaxation response, soothe and relax the nervous system, slow heart rate, and create overall calm within the body and mind.
The very simple breathing practice (sometimes called Buddha belly breath) is one of the most powerful breath practices to do all of this and more. And best of all, it’s incredibly accessible.
Find a deeply relaxing and comfortable position to begin. You may wish to start seated in a chair or on the floor or you may prefer to lie down on your back in bed or on the floor. If you choose to be seated, lift and lengthen your whole spine. If you lie down, release the full weight of your body into your bed or the floor.
Rest your right hand over your belly and your left hand over your heart.
Close your eyes and draw your awareness inside.
Systematically soften the musculature in your body. Let your body consciously relax.
Focus your attention on your natural breath. Without judgement or control, notice its organic rhythm, pace, and depth.
When you feel ready, draw a full, deep breath in through your nose. Visualise the air moving through your body as it passes through your nostrils, down your throat, and into your chest. Feel your left hand rise as air expands your chest.
Then follow your breath as it moves into your lungs, expanding your rib cage out three-dimensionally like an umbrella opening inside of you.
Continue to follow that same breath down into your diaphragm (just below your lungs) as this muscle also three-dimensionally expands like a parachute in your trunk. Feel how this deep expansion of your diaphragm pushes against your abdominal organs to distend your belly forward and lift your right hand.
After you’ve drawn air all the way down to your diaphragm, slowly exhale through your nose and observe as the flow of air reverses direction and releases out from your body.
Feel your belly and right hand lower. Observe your ribs contract as your ribs deflate. Notice your chest and left hand lower. And feel the air release from your nostrils.
Repeat the same actions and observations as you take your next breath and continue with this simple pattern of breathing in through your nose and all the way down to your belly and out through your nose for a few minutes. Find a slow and steady rhythm to follow as you expand each breath.
Once you’ve finished, relax your arms and pause for a moment to observe any lingering sensations from your breath practice. Notice how you feel after spending just a few short minutes focusing on your breath.
Repeat as often as desired to find calm anytime.
Never underestimate the power of your own breath
Our breath literally holds the key to so many impactful doors—we can reduce stress, alleviate anxiety, get centred and focused, lower blood pressure, and find peace all by simply adjusting our breathing.
We have access to our breath all the time. We use our breath all the time. If we simply put our conscious attention on our breath for fleeting moments every day, we can drastically affect our overall health and wellbeing. And that is something well worth investing our time in—no matter how busy we are.
About Leah Sugerman
Leah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveller. An eternally grateful student, she writes about and teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on finding the balance between strength and surrender. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings both online and internationally. Connect with Leah and follow her teachings and travels on Instagram, Facebook, and LeahSugerman.com.