There are several different types of breathing exercises that generally fall into two categories: exercises that are relaxing and calming and exercises that are invigorating and energizing. Calming exercises typically bring in air slowly to expand the abdomen, followed by the diaphragm and lungs. The breathing is slowed as more air is exhaled than was inhaled. Energizing breathing exercises involve the rapid expansion of the lungs as the abdomen is pulled inward. Breaths are then held before being exhaled fast. Calming exercises quiet the body and mind, while energizing exercises are meant to raise the metabolism.
Calming breaths are common in yoga and meditation practices. Such exercises can also be useful when attempting to control stress, reduce anxiety or insulate from crisis. Calm breathing can be accomplished in nearly any environment without drawing any attention.
Breathing slowly and deeply through the nose followed by long exhalation through the mouth is a classic breathing exercise for relaxation. This exercise is often most effective in a quiet environment with closed eyes. Air is pulled into the abdomen that expands like a balloon and is exhaled to a count of ten. Breathing into the abdomen triggers the body to relax itself.
Quick belly breaths are additional breathing exercises commonly performed for relaxation. Once again the breather pulls air into the abdomen and feels it expand with his or her hands. The lungs follow. The air is then exhaled in a series of short bursts rather than one long stream.
The mind should be still when performing calming exercises. The body should go limp like a wet noodle or feel as though it were melting into a puddle. No thoughts should intrude during these exercises. Relaxing breathing exercises are a useful means of interrupting and stopping negative thoughts.
A series of three or four short breaths followed by one long breath is an exercise that can be use to quickly energize the body. Both the short breaths and the long one should be deep. This exercise can help perk people up when they tend to lose energy in mid afternoon.
Incorporating arm movement into these exercises can increase lung capacity and metabolism as well. Holding objects, waving arms or doing figure eights in the air while taking regular breaths can be invigorating. Breathing into the lungs while pulling the abdomen inward also can produce a similar effect.
Some people may feel dizzy or light headed while performing breathing exercises. The exercises should be stopped under these circumstances. Individuals interested in incorporating breathing exercises into their routines should consult with a medical practitioner if there are any concerns or health conditions that may be aggravated.