Best Breathing Techniques?

Please let me know if this type of question is not appropriate here, but I’ve done just a bit of research so far and I haven’t gotten terribly satisfactory answers.

What is the best breathing technique? I couple of years ago I did some Buteyko breathing exercises. It’s pretty interesting. The Buteyko method involves trying to slow down–and as near as I can tell–keep your breathing shallow. Belly breathing, but slow and steady.

But I would love some solid sources on what is the best way to breathe.

Hi @JessicaK - No problem with this question, but I think it deserves it’s on topic so I started one.

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I think it depends on the activity that you are trying to maximize with your breathing.
Here are some of the breathing techniques and the activity matches that worked for me:

  • The Whim Hof method mornings helped me get out of a life rut.
  • The XPT method for box breathing helped me maximize cardio-respiratory workouts.
  • The 4-7-8 breathing made famous by Andrew Weil helps me finish the day off right when the goal of the day has been pure relaxation.
  • The Monroe Institute’s hemisync protocols for deep napping help me see where my breathing goes when I am not putting any conscious thought into breathing. (Please be careful with Monroe Institute products, they are powerful and can be dangerous. Ask a doctor before using them.)

These are just a few suggestions. Good luck.

I’m not very well schooled when it comes to various breathing techniques but I really enjoy my 4-4-4-4 breathing routine… count to 4 while breathing in, hold for a 4 count, count to 4 while breathing out, hold for a 4 count, repeat.

I use it a lot while driving and I and I find it settles my mind and makes my body feel calm.

I also use it while falling asleep, matching the count to my heart rate, if possible.

The benefits may come more from simply paying attention to/ focusing on my breathing vs letting my brain wander than any respiratory advantages butt I’ll take the easy, repeatable win either way.

Looking forward to reading more on this thread.

Thank you!

I’m a big fan of the Wim Hof Method. There’s a little science behind it which you can find on their page. I’m not sure about their claims but it makes me feel better when I do it. Just take the warnings seriously as it can make you light headed so do it laying down if you give it a go.

I think your breathing technique depends on what you are trying to do.
Many activities would have different approaches:
Strength training
Aerobic training
Minimizing heart rate
Maximizing Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
Public speaking
Even when connecting with someone, you may tend to mirror their breathing.
Is there something specific you are trying to achieve and can you measure the results?

I’m interested in two goals for breathing, with results that may be quantified:

  1. Fighting procrastination (quantify by the number of minutes/hours/days putting off a task since its scheduled time)
  2. Relaxing in bed to fall asleep (quantify by sleep onset time)

Interesting to connect breathing with fighting procrastination. What are you thinking about trying?

If anyone is looking for breathing techniques with a simple, fully customizable guided pacer, I built this (free!) breathing app (available on iOS and Android):

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In “The Willpower Instinct”, Kelly McGonigal claims that a few minutes of slow breathing (“10-15 seconds per breath”, presumably a full in&out cycle)

“activates the prefrontal cortex and increases heart rate variability, which helps shift the brain and body from a state of stress to self-control mode. A few minutes of this technique will make you feel calm, in control, and capable of handling cravings or challenges.”

She says that when you need an “I will power” (e.g. do something you’re procrastinating on), you might win by exercising the “I won’t power” by not doing whatever else you do to procrastinate instead of the task.

Im actually reading a book all about breathing! Its called Breath by James Nestor