“Pause, then breathe with awareness while focusing on an intention.”
This time around, try to be more aware and deliberate. Inhale slowly, for as long as you can. Hold. Then exhale slowly, for even longer than your inhale. Hold. Do this for a few rounds. Inhale. Exhale. Then pause, and start breathing normally. Do you feel any difference? Do you notice how much clearer your mind is, and how the rest of your body has calmed down? This is what conscious breathing does.
If you’re new to it, you can try guided methods for conscious breathing. You can watch online videos and download breathing or meditation apps for free. You may also attend a yoga or pranayama class, where a teacher can help you work on how you breathe. Some good techniques you will learn in such classes are Alternate Nostril Breathing, which balances your breathing on both your right and left sides; and Breath of Fire, an energizing breathwork which warms up your body.
Conscious breathing helps you overcome stress and anxiety. It taps into your parasympathetic nervous system, easing your overstimulated nerves from their initial fight-or-flight response. The next time you’re about to speak in front of an audience or blow your temper, pause, then breathe with awareness while focusing on an intention.
Conscious breathing can reduce blood pressure, improve digestion, and encourage deeper sleep. If you have practiced it for a while, you may even notice how it improves your respiration in activities such as running, hiking, swimming, and scuba diving. Coupled with introspection, it also lets you reach into your inner self to release suppressed thoughts and pent-up emotions.