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What are some breathing meditation techniques?

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One example of a breathing meditation technique is called equal breathing or "sama vritti" in Sanskrit. This technique is done by inhaling through the nose for a count of four and exhaling through the nose for a count of four, says Jordan Shakeshaft for Time magazine. Advanced yogis can up the count to six or eight.

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Another technique is called abdominal breathing. This involves placing one hand on the chest and one hand on the belly, states Shakeshaft. A breath is inhaled through the nose with focus on expanding the diaphragm. This is done six to 10 times with slow breaths for about 10 minutes. Doing this breathing exercise for six to eight weeks helps increase the health benefits, which include reducing the heart rate and blood pressure.

Nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breathing is another example. This is performed by sitting in a comfortable meditation pose and placing the right thumb over the right nostril while breathing deeply through the left nostril, explains Shakeshaft. When an inhalation reaches its peak, the left nostril is closed with the ring finger and the exhale is performed through the right nostril. This pattern is continued for as long as desired and is a technique that helps people feel more awake.

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