The 4 types of breathing (and how to learn them in meditation)

We all know that breathing is a vital activity for humans., And not just to keep us alive. There are other ways in which this daily activity influences us.

Yes, we are aerobic beings and we need to capture oxygen from the environment and exchange it for carbon dioxide in our lungs, but there is no one right way to inhale and exhale. they exist type of breathing alternatives.

Main types of breathing

Different criteria can be used to define the types of breathing. For example, we can differentiate by the main component that is captured from the atmosphere, or classify according to the mechanism used to carry out the gas exchange. But this time I’ll talk about the different breathing control techniques and
its benefits on our health.

With the current pace of life, we are not aware that
we perform incorrect breathing. We usually breathe quickly and shallowly, without making the most of our lung capacity. Associated with this fact is the appearance of various health problems common in large metropolises, such as stress and anxiety, which in turn make breathing even more difficult.

Good breathing is the key
to have good health. The West has never given too much importance to the exercise of the breath than to maintaining our existence, but to the East if we find that. More precisely with the discipline of yoga, where they attach great importance to good conscious breathing to have good health of our body and our mind.

1. Diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing

This type of breathing is based on the movement of the
diaphragm, The concave shaped muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity and is responsible for respiratory activity. When inhaled, the lungs they gradually fill with airPushing the diaphragm, which in turn pushes the organs of the abdominal cavity, giving the impression that the belly is swelling. For this reason, it is also known as abdominal breathing.

On exhalation, the lungs are emptied of air and take up less space, remaining in a smaller area. The diaphragm returns to its original position. In yoga, we talk about shortness of breath.

Tips for practicing it

It is recommended that to begin with, it is best to do this from an upward approach, and as you master the technique, move on to other postures, such as sitting or standing. You should be comfortable with your hands on your abdomen and performing the breathing exercise with your nose.

  • To begin with, you must expel air from the lungs, In order to induce a deep inspiration by lack of air.
  • Breathe in deeply and slowly, swell the abdomen relaxed.
  • Air dependencies for a moment.
  • When you feel the urge to breathe out, Do it long, slowly and deeply.
  • Running out of air in the lungs for a while, and when you need to breathe in, repeat the steps.

While exercising, it is also advisable to speak (for example using the expression OM), as the sound vibrations help to control the speed and rhythm of inhaling and exhaling, as well as a relaxing effect on the rib cage.

Health benefits

This type of breathing allows
increase the filling capacity of the lungs, Which promotes good oxygenation of the blood. The impulse of movement produced by the diaphragm promotes blood circulation and stimulates the movement of the heart. The constant activity of the diaphragm performs a good massage of the organs of the abdominal cavity, promoting intestinal transit.

In addition, it acts on the
Solar plexus, A nerve network located at the beginning of the ventral aortic artery, having a relaxing effect and reducing anxiety and the feeling of “stomach knot”.

2. Rib or thoracic breathing

This type of breathing is based on the
rib separation for expansion of the chest cavity. This happens when the middle area of ​​the lung is filled, which is achieved after the lower part has been filled through diaphragmatic breathing. This kind of breathing happens very frequently without us realizing it. In yoga it is known as medium breathing.

Tips for practicing it

The recommended position for this type of breathing is sitting down, with your back straight but without straining and placing your hands on your ribs.

  • Exhale the air deeply and stretch the abdomen, Which will help empty the lungs.
  • Inhale while maintaining the tension in the abdomen, allowing the ribs to expand. You will see that it costs more than diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Air dependencies for a while, then all the slow, continuous air exhaled. Repeat the process.

Health benefits

Performed in conjunction with diaphragmatic breathing, it helps improve lung capacity and
relaxing effect.

3. Clavicular breathing

In this type of breathing we focus on
the highest part of the lung, Which is smaller than the previous ones, so it captures less air. In inspiration, it appears that the collarbones are elevated, hence the name. In yoga, it is high breathing.

This type of breathing can be observed in people suffering from anxiety or nervous breakdown, having short and quick breaths in and out, as they have diaphragm blockage due to emotional causes. too much
predominant in pregnant women, Especially in recent months, when the baby occupies most of the abdominal cavity and does not allow the diaphragm to work properly.

Tips for practicing it

To begin with, in a seated position, we cross our arms, placing our hands on the ribs.

  • make one deep expiration and at the end of this contract the abdominals and apply pressure with our hands on the ribs.
  • Inspire try to lift the collarbones, But not the shoulders. You will find that although this is the greatest effort in rib breathing, the air captured is rather scarce.
  • It expels the little air who was captured.

Health benefits

This breathing alone has no advantage and is rather poor in ventilation. But this is gaining importance in the last control technique which I will now talk about.

4. Complete breathing

This type of breathing, also known
yogic breathing, Is the goal of mastering the three techniques mentioned above, and is the unification of all, seeking conscious control of breathing.

Tips for practicing it

This exercise can be done both lying down and sitting down, although if you are a beginner it is always best to do it in bed. The activity should be done in a relaxed manner, breathing through the nose, and can help the high pronunciation of the OM expression.


  • Empty the lungs with a deep exhalation.
  • A slow inspiration begins by descent of the diaphragm (diaphragmatic breathing).
  • He continues to breathe in the air dilate the ribs (Rib breathing).
  • keep inspiring by lifting your collarbones (Clavicular breathing).
  • Outbuildings air a few moments.
  • The relaxed exhalation begins the opposite of inspirationThat is, by first letting the air out of the upper part, followed by the middle and finally the lower part of the lungs.
  • Wait a few seconds no air in the lungs, And the cycle begins again.

As you saw, this kind of breathing
it is carried out in three phases to inhale and three others to exhaleAs it is a combination of other breathing techniques. Yoga experts recommend doubling the time that the exhalation is performed compared to the inhalation.

Health benefits

Being the sum of the other types of breathing, the aforementioned benefits are maintained, that is, it increases lung capacity, better blood oxygenation, stimulates blood circulation and tones the heart.

It also presents other benefits such as self-control training, and provides serenity and concentration.

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