It could take several lifetimes to master the thousands of esoteric breathing techniques found in yoga, Taoism, meditation and martial arts. Even some seemingly simple breathing techniques might take years to get right. Despite this, you start benefiting the day you begin practicing and the benefits only increase with consistency. Moreover we only need to master a few breathing techniques to develop good health.
Some popular breathing techniques are belly breathing, breath of fire, alternate nostril breathing and counting breath. I have had good results with all of these and use them during yoga and Taoist practice.
In addition to these breathing techniques, there is a practice known as ‘following your breath’. Unlike the others, this is not a technique whereby you consciously try to breathe in a particular way. Following your breath is just putting awareness on your breath as it enters and exits your body.
Although following your breath seems simple, many people become tense and start breathing unnaturally once they put their awareness into their breath. This problem is solved over time with patience and practice.
Following your breath is therapeutic, it keeps you in the moment and helps develop concentration.
Sit on a chair with your back straight or lie on your back.
Pay attention to your breath as it enters and exits your nostrils. Or pay attention to the rising and falling of your belly and chest as the breath enters and leaves your body. Do not try to make anything happen, just observe and follow the breath as it enters and exits.