Let’s get this out of the way: You’re not going to lose weight by breathing. That said, you can incorporate breathing (along with a healthy diet and exercise routine) into a healthy lifestyle. Paying particular attention to your breathing when working out can help you utilize proper form, making it more likely you’ll see results. Concentrating on your breathing outside of your workouts can help reduce stress, so you’ll be less tempted to turn to unhealthy habits like overeating and drinking to cope. So when you look at the big picture, breathing can be used – in conjunction with many other things – as a weight loss tool. Try these 6 breathing techniques as part of your healthy routine.
1. Diaphragm Breathing
When you breathe deeper, your abdominal muscles become more flexible. Using your diaphragm when you breathe increases your lung capacity. Try lying on your back and breathing normally, noticing the rise and fall of your chest and stomach. Continue breathing, getting deeper with each inhale and exhalation.
2. Relaxing Breathing
Increase your oxygen intake by practicing deep, active breathing. This may help you to feel more energized, so try it the next time you need to motivate yourself before a workout. Start by exhaling as much air as you can from your lungs. Inhale through your nose, using a 4-count breath. Hold your breath for 8 counts (if you’re able to do this, hold for less. If it feels really difficult, skip holding your breath altogether and just focus on breathing). Exhale through your mouth for an 8-count. Hold your breath for an 8-count. Straighten your posture and repeat.
3. Long Breathing
As a gentle reminder, this author stands by her statement that breathing exercises alone will not help you lose weight. The breathing exercises on this list are being included more for their ability to help you relax and reduce stress than for the bold weight loss claims accompanying them. The long breath diet was created in Japan and some believe it can train your inner muscles to aid with weight loss. Start by tightening your butt and strongly exhaling from your upper body, making a sound as if you were throwing a shot put. This should take no longer than 10 seconds. Repeat 6 times.
4. Fire Breathing
Also known as Kapalbhati, this breath of fire exercise was made popular by yoga guru Baba Ramdev. Sit with legs crossed. Keep your body straight and tall. Relax your abdominal muscles. Breathe in deeply. Exhale through your nose (like a sniffle). Feel your ab muscles pull in as you sniff out. Practice doing this exercise 30-50 times, working up to 5-10 minutes. Avoid this exercise if you have high blood pressure or heart disease. (It’s advisable to check with your doctor before trying any of these breathing exercises).
5. Focused Breathing
When the stress of the day starts getting to you, excuse yourself for 10 minutes and find a quiet place to sit. The goal is to be calm and concentrate on nothing but your breathing. This can be achieved through guided imagery, imagining yourself somewhere serene and peaceful, or relaxing all your body parts one body part at a time. While focusing on your breath and body, zone in on the cues your body is sending. When you’re in this focused state, try to separate the way hunger feels from the desire to emotionally eat.
6. Bhastrika Pranayama
Designed to bring fresh oxygen into your body, this style of breathing starts with you sitting cross legged. Put your hands on your knees, palms facing up. Breathe normally and relax. Now breathe with all your strength. Let your lungs fill with oxygen. Breathe out through your nose, making a hissing noise as you do. Repeat 5-10 times