Meditation & Breathing Exercises

Meditation and breathing exercises can provide numerous emotional, mental, physical and spiritual benefits. According to the Project Meditation website, practicing meditation can help reduce anxiety, strengthen the mind, normalize blood pressure and cause deep relaxation. Also, according to the American Student Medical Association, breathing exercises can produce many of the same effects. Therefore, when it comes to your overall health, regular meditation and breathing practice may be well worth your time.

Sitting Meditation

Sit cross-legged on a pillow on the ground. Assume an upright posture with your upper body. Place your hands comfortably on your knees with your palms facing up or down. Focus on your breathing. Let your thoughts come and go peacefully without resistance, but do not dwell on them. If you begin to feel uncomfortable, feel free to change positions, but do so gracefully. Meditate for as long you want.

Walking Meditation

Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that a walking meditation requires you to focus peacefully and unhurriedly on each step and to walk with your mind clear of everything except walking. Consistent with his recommendations, to practice walking meditation, walk slowly and concentrate on each individual step. Focus on your breathing as you walk; breathe deeply by taking several steps for each inhalation and exhalation. You may want to recite a peaceful word or phrase while you are walking. Feel free to practice walking meditation whenever, wherever and for as long as you want.

Abdominal Breathing

The purpose of abdominal breathing is to relax your body and mind. Practice it whenever you feel stressed or upset. To practice abdominal breathing, begin by lying comfortably on your back. Inhale gently through your nose for about four counts; let your abdomen rise above your chest. Visualize the air flowing to the very bottom of your lungs. Next, hold your breath for no more than seven counts in your head. Slowly exhale through your mouth for approximately eight counts (your exhalation should be about twice as long as your inhalation). Repeat for a total of five breaths. You can also practice abdominal breathing from a seated position.

Bellows Breathing

This breathing exercise is meant to energize your body. Begin by sitting with your back straight. Perform the exercise by breathing shallowly through your nose as quickly as possible. Try to inhale and exhale two to three times per second. Do this for 15 seconds at first. Gradually increase the time as desired, but never exceed one minute. Do not perform this exercise too long or too often, especially at first, because you could lose consciousness due to hyperventilation. Use this technique when you wake up in the morning and/or anytime you need an energy boost.

About this Author

Matthew Schirm has worked in the sports performance field for 10 years. He has professional experience as a baseball coach and weight training instructor. He recently earned a Master of Science degree in human movement from A.T. Still University in Mesa, Ariz.