Inhale. Exhale. 

Whether you want to relieve stress or begin a habitual meditation or yoga practice, breathwork is essential. What may seem at first just like breathing in and out can have tremendous health benefits and that’s why we’ve written this breathwork for beginners guide as part of our Breathwork series. 

The healing power of deep breathing can help in relaxing into a deep sleep at the end of the day and may reduce inflammation for those with autoimmune disorders. After practicing breathwork, beginners may see benefits including less tension, pain and anxiety as well as lower blood pressure. 

What is Breathwork? 

Awareness of breath through controlling the rate and depth of breathing is breathwork, which is often a part of yoga or meditation. Breathwork dates to ancient India, where it was referred to as pranayama, from the Sanskrit word “prana,” meaning “sacred life force.” 

Breathwork has benefits, including improving mood and circulation, reducing stress and tension, and lowering blood pressure.  

What Do I Need to Start Breathwork? 

A quiet place and a comfortable chair or place to lie down are all that’s needed to start doing breathwork. Breathwork can be done at work or anywhere you need to release tension and stress. Some breathwork for beginners can be done from an office chair or standing. 

Some like using a yoga mat for exercises that require lying down. Soft music and a favorite essential oil can make breathwork more relaxing, but they’re not required. 

Seven Breathwork Techniques for Beginners 

There are myriad breathwork techniques, including some that are best left to those experienced in breathwork, yoga or meditation. These seven techniques are designed to be breathwork for beginners. You can implement these breathing exercises on your own without an instructor. 

Belly Breathing 

Belly breathing is easy to do and can be done anytime to relieve stress. Sit or lie down comfortably. Place one hand on the abdomen under the ribs and the other on the chest. Inhale deeply through the nose. Your chest shouldn’t move, but the abdomen should rise. 

Exhale through puckered lips. Repeat, inhaling and exhaling slowly. 

Box Breathing 

Imagine and focus on a square shape, and then inhale deeply for four counts. Hold your breath for four counts, and then exhale for four counts. Hold your breath for four counts, and then start the process over.  

Diaphragmatic Breathing 

Breathing from the diaphragm, located between the chest and abdomen, is deeper. The best way to benefit from diaphragmatic breathing is to lie down with feet on the floor and knees bent. 

Place one hand on the chest, and the other on the abdomen. Inhale deeply, feeling the chest and abdomen rise. Hold your breath, and then exhale, letting the chest fall. Repeat. 

4-7-8 Breathing 

Many practitioners of breathwork find the counting of the 4-7-8 breathing calming. Start by exhauling, and then inhale through the nose for four counts. Hold your breath for seven counts, and then exhale negative energy for eight counts. 

Repeat three times. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing 

Close the right nostril with your right thumb and breathe in with the left nostril. Then close it with the right ring finger. Hold your breath, then open the right nostril and exhale through it. 

Repeat, only inhaling through the right nostril and closing the left. Hold your breath with both nostrils closed, and then open the left nostril to exhale. 

Repeat this cycle several times.  

Morning Breathing  

Do this exercise as you wake up or anytime you need to release tension or back pain. Stand up and bend at the waist with knees bent. Let arms dangle. Inhale slowly and deeply while rolling up to return to a standing position. 

Hold your breath for a few seconds while standing, then exhale while bending to return to the original bent position.  

Roll Breathing 

Lie down with feet on the floor and knees bent. Place one hand on the chest and the other on the abdomen. Practice belly breathing, inhaling and exhaling eight to 10 times. Then inhale as for belly breathing but continue inhaling to fill the upper lung. You should feel the chest rise. 

Exhale through your mouth, making a soft whoosh. Imagine tension and negativity leaving with each exhaling breath. Repeat for three to five minutes. 

Breathwork for Beginners

The simple act of inhaling and exhaling can provide multiple benefits for mind, body and spirit. Learning how to do breathwork is easy and doesn’t require special equipment or lessons. Relax and breathe in the benefits of breathwork. 

Related Reading: The Spirituality Guide For Open-Minded Beginners

Breathwork for beginners is like breathing in refreshing forest air
Breathwork for beginners is like breathing in refreshing forest air

University of Michigan Health 

Healthline 

WebMD 

Frontiers in Psychology 

Charlie Penwarden

Former mental health nurse turned consultant with a critical focus on human behaviour research analysis and the optimisation of mental health management to prevent illness and promote life harmony.