There are several mindful breathing techniques outlined in Buddhism and Thich Nhat Hanh does a beautiful job explaining them to us laypeople. He has also offered some different variations, including this well-known meditation:
“Breathing in, I calm myself. Breathing out, I smile.”
I recently came across a transcript of a dharma talk Thich Nhat Hanh gave on mindful breathing in 1998. I was struck by the way he described returning to our bodies and ourselves through breathing and meditation. Here’s a short excerpt:
Here is a great video from Ray Long of The Daily Bandha which explains diaphragmatic (belly) breathing in a much more concise way than I did in my post about the difference between “belly” and “chest” breathing. This video also guides you through a few minutes of belly breathing practice.
Breathing practices, called pranayama, are an important part of any yoga practice. So if you attend yoga classes, you’re guaranteed to hear the teacher instructing students to control the breath in a variety of ways, some more complicated than others. The most common instructions that I’ve encountered while taking yoga classes are “breathe into your belly” and “breathe into your ribs.”
When I started doing yoga, I found myself confused about the mechanics of these two different actions, which never get fully explained during class (through no fault of the teacher — there simply isn’t time). Rather than simply experiencing the breathing exercise the teacher was offering, I often found myself thinking:
How? How on earth can air move into my belly? Air only goes in and out of the lungs, which are in the rib cage last I checked. What am I missing?