Breathing Exercises for Energy and Productivity
By Team 1AND1
Many meditation philosophies and practices describe breath as the fire of the body. Indeed, when you consider breath metaphorically, it’s easy to imagine each inhalation as taking in energy and every exhalation as relaxing and coming down from an energetic high.
The right breathing exercises can impact your metabolism, bodily functions, mental health, thought patterns, and much more. That’s why you can purposefully use certain breathing exercises for energy and productivity. If you’re not sure where to start, read on — we’ll break down some of the best breathing exercises to boost energy now.
1. Counting Exercise
This first exercise involves some simple counting while monitoring your breathing patterns. It’s perfect if you feel restless or frazzled, and it focuses on slow inhalations and incrementally increasing how long your exhalations last. To do this breathing exercise:
- First, inhale to the count of two
- Then exhale to the count of two
- Next, inhale to the count of two once again but exhale to the count of three
- Repeat this sequence by inhaling to the count of two, exhaling to the count of four, etc.
Once you repeat this basic pattern a few times, return to your normal breathing. You may find that your regular breathing pattern is more regulated, relaxed, and easier to maintain. In other words, this is a great way to make breathing easier if you are stressed out or trying to quickly calm your breathing pattern from exercise or some other intense event.
2. Deep Breathing Exercise
This next deep breathing exercise requires you to sit in a specific way. If you do it properly, you’ll feel calmer than ever. To begin:
- Sit with your back upright in with your legs folded. Alternatively, you can sit in a chair that supports your back
- Put your hands on your knees and close your eyes
- Then, focus on your breathing as best as you can and slowly inhale for as long as is comfortable
- When your lungs are full, exhale and repeat this sequence 4 to 5 times
All you’re doing is deeply breathing. But in many ways, this will change your metabolism, your thought processes, and how stressed out your chest muscles feel. By breathing deeply, you may also benefit your body by stretching out your chest muscles and core.
3. Lion Breathing Exercise
The “lion breathing” exercise can be performed either while sitting on the floor or on a desk chair that supports your back. In either case, keep your back straight throughout the exercise’s duration.
- Inhale like you are breathing normally
- But when you exhale, open your mouth and pull your tongue out
- Make a “ha” sound as soon as you exhale
- It might feel a little silly at first
- But after 5 to 10 times, you may discover that lion breathing boosts your energy significantly
This can be a great breathing exercise to try at the beginning of a workday or before a meeting. It only takes a few minutes, and by hearing your own voice “roar,” you may provide yourself with some psychological support you need for an upcoming stressful event.
4. Bellows Breath Exercise
Also called “Bhastrika,” the bellows breath exercise is often used in yoga. In theory, it can boost your life force and clear your thoughts in more ways than one. Some believe that bellows breathing exercises can support your metabolism and digestive system. In any case, it can help to give you some energy quickly and easily. Do this exercise by:
- Sitting up while relaxed and taking a few breaths using your nose. Breathe deeply and, as you inhale, expand your stomach fully
- When you exhale, do it forcefully through your nose. Then, forcefully inhale
- You should try to breathe (both inhaling and exhaling) once per second
- As you move, keep your neck, shoulders, and chest still. Your stomach or belly should be the place that moves the most
- After 10 cycles of the bellows breath exercise, breathe like normal
- Then, wait 30 seconds and repeat the cycle. Try to breathe for 20 cycles instead of 10
- Repeat the above cycle and go for 30 cycles with the bellows breath exercise
By the end, you’ll feel energized, confident, and ready to tackle the day. If the bellows breathing exercise is too tough at first, give it a few tries and see how you feel.
5. The 5–3–3 Breathing Exercise
5–3–3 breathing is an excellent breathing exercise if you need to gather energy quickly. It’s very straightforward:
- First, take five deep breaths. Use your nose to breathe in and exhale out through the mouth
- When you breathe, try to completely fill your lungs with air and to completely empty them with each exhalation
- Inhale and exhale three times very quickly using your nose and mouth
- After three breaths, inhale and exhale three times while being as loud as possible
- Do this twice. At the end, you should feel energized, and your lungs should feel like they have some extra capacity due to being stretched out
6. Box Breathing Exercise
The box breathing exercise is a highly important technique you can use to improve your productivity and focus. Here’s how to do it:
- Inhale through the nose and into your stomach for four seconds
- Hold your breath for four seconds
- Then exhale through your nose for four seconds
- Hold your breath for four more seconds before inhaling once again
This breathing exercise is fairly easy to remember since each step takes four seconds. It’s a good way to monitor your breathing and maintain control over your balance and body movements.
7. Alternate Nostril Breathing Exercise
Last but not least, the alternate nostril breathing exercise can bolster your energy and even assist with mild congestion! By the end, you should be able to breathe through your nose much more easily.
- Start in a seated position and put your left palm on your thigh or knee
- Then take a few breaths, both inhalations and exhalations, using your nose
- Take the thumb of your right hand and close your right nostril. Inhale through the left nostril
- Use your ring finger and close the left nostril. Hold it there for one second
- Then, remove your thumb from your right nostril and exhale through the nose. Inhale through the right nostril
- Then repeat the process by holding both nostrils closed for one second
- Remove your ring finger from the left nostril, exhale, and inhale through that open nostril
Repeat the cycle 10 times and continue to circle your breath through both nostrils.
As you can see, there are many ways to practice breathing exercises and bolster your energy and productivity across the board. Even better, the more you practice these breathing exercises, the more benefits you’ll reap in the long term.
But there are other ways you can improve your energy and productivity, as well. 1AND1’s recipes, wellness resources, and tutorials can help you maximize your physical and mental wellness. Check out our resources today!
Bhastrika Pranayama — How to do Bhastrika and Its Benefits | The Art of Living India
Breathing Exercises | American Lung Association