5 Breathing Exercises To Start Your Day

Updated: Feb 17

Here are 5 simple exercises to get started with improving the way you breathe to change the way you move, feel and perform.


The five exercise are part of a little 5 day challenge in collaboration with The School of Self Development. There's a PDF below that you can download and keep as a reminder as well as watching some of the videos below as you practise the exercises. You could do just one exercise per day or evening all five! I've designed them that each exercise builds on the previous one so do perform them in the correct order starting with exercise one and finishing with exercise five.


5 Breathing Exercises School of Self Development
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All exercises are based on techniques from the Oxygen Advantage which uses the latest science and research into breathing to develop techniques and breathing exercises that are easy to incorporate into your day. They will help develop your overall health and well-bring as well as improve your focus, concentration, sleep, attention, stress management and much more!


The 5 exercise are;


1. Unblock nose drill – “The nose is designed for breathing, the mouth for eating!”

This drill is used to harness nitric oxide in the nasal cavity, which is a vasodilator (meaning it helps open it up) to help unblock your nose so its easier to breathe the way you are design to breath… with your nose NOT your mouth!



  • Breathe in through the nose then out of the nose normally

  • Pinch the nose and hold your breath.

  • Nod the head whilst holding the breath 10 times

  • Let go of the nose and breathe in through the nose.

  • Perform this 5 times increasing the number of head nods by 5 to 10 each time until you feel it challenges your ‘air hunger’.

Breathe in through the nose and notice how much clearer it feels.


2. Diaphragm contraction - blocked inhalation

The exercise is to help you ‘feel’ what it is like to contract your diaphragm. Your diaphragm is your primary breathing much and it’s important to know how to contract it to be able to use it!

  • Breathe in through the nose then out of the nose normally

  • Place one hand just below your sternum and with the other pinch the nose and hold your breath.

  • Whilst holding your breath try to breathe in

  • No air can come in, so you’ll feel your diaphragm tugging down and push out against your hand

Try this 3 to 5 times, each attempt trying to engage a stronger contraction.


3. Functional breathing mechanics – nose, diaphragm and ribs

There are 3 key elements to functional breathing. The first is breathing through the nose which you cleared in exercise 1. The second is breathing with the diaphragm pulling down and pushing out to draw air in, which you just felt contract in exercise 2. The final elements is to get your ribcage expanding laterally in order to create the space for the diaphragm to move.



  • Place your hands on either side of your trunk, just below your lowest rib

  • Breathe all the air out, as much as you can and feel your hands come together just above your waist.

  • Force as much air out as you can and then get ready…

  • You’ll stimulate a strong urge to breathe… connect to that diaphragm contraction from exercise 2.

  • Only now air will come in through the nose

  • Feel your hands pushing out as you diaphragm contracts and draws air in.

  • Do 5 controlled deep diaphragmatic breath cycles.


4. Breathing light and silent – carbon dioxide tolerance and breathing habits

Being able to slow your breathing down is key to improve your bodies sensitivity to carbon dioxide (CO2 is the primary stimulus to breathe). In order to breathe silently you have to breathe slowly.



  • Lie down on your back with knees bent.

  • Feel your ribs move gently as your breathe.

  • Notice your lower back expanding against the floor slightly too.

  • Focus on the sound your breathe is making in and out of the nose.

  • Try to slow your breathing down to make it quiet or even silent.

  • Keep the breathe silent for 3 to 5 minutes (10 minutes if you’re really enjoying it!)


5. Box breathing 4-4-4-4 - cool, calm and collected.

Made famous by the navy seals who need to be in a relaxed by focus state. Balancing our breathing with even inhales, exhales and pauses allows us to balance the nervous system (which responds to inhales and exhales specifically), keep us in a clam and relaxed state, but not sleepy relax but focus and concentrated.


Do this for 10 rounds to start your day feeling, cool, calm and collected.

  • Breathe in through the nose for a count of 4

  • Hold for 4 seconds

  • Breathe out the nose for 4 seconds

  • Hold the breath for 4 seconds

  • Continue for 9 more rounds (10 in total)

You can follow a guided breathing bubble on the app that I personally use and recommend to all my clients (free version plus 50% off offer) - https://breathe.breathwrk.com/david-jackson/


LEARN MORE - Follow online breathing courses with us


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