When it comes to stress relief, one of the most powerful tools is easy to overlook: your breathing. Breathing exercises can be a fantastic tool for managing anxiety, reducing stress, and grounding yourself. Whether you want to boost your energy or calm your mind, learn some basic breathing exercises with the help of these apps.
Why Are Breathing Exercises Helpful?
Why bother practicing something you do automatically anyway? Breathing exercises can encourage you to become more aware of your breathing habits and learn to take deeper breaths over time.
The depth of your breathing is key. As it turns out, many people don't take full, diaphragmatic breaths on their own, according to Harvard Health Publishing. It's common to take shallow breaths that only extend through the chest. This can lead to feelings of tension and anxiety in the body, whereas deeper breathing can increase feelings of relaxation and calm.
With practice, you can learn to take deeper breaths over time. And like meditation and relaxation apps, practicing deep breathing has the potential to benefit your body and mind.
Designed to help you fall asleep faster, wake up with ease, and soothe anxiety, Breathwrk's breathing exercises cover a lot of ground. With a community of more than 1 million breathers, it’s a popular app packed with tons of content.
Select a breathing exercise in the app and follow the cues to inhale and exhale. You may also hold your breath for portions of the exercise. Then, personalize the app by selecting from different animations, including a circle, a wave, and a cute breathing monkey.
In addition, you can select breathing exercises that serve different purposes. Under the Health category, for instance, the breathing exercises address migraine pain, asthma, allergies, and many more conditions. The Perform category includes exercises designed to help improve stamina, lung capacity, and recovery.
Additional exercises aim to help you relax, prepare for sleep, or boost your energy levels. You can read an overview of each exercise and its purpose to better understand its intent.
The Breathwrk app offers even more content designed to make breathing exercises a routine part of your day. For instance, the Habits section helps breathing exercises fit into your daily schedule. The Deep Sleep habit prompts you to unwind with breathing exercises before bed, while the High Energy habit has you complete three sets of breathing exercises earlier in the day.
Next, a series of Classes aim to incorporate breathing exercises into even more areas of your life. There's a Pre-Workout Breathing class to help you get prepped for an exercise session, while the Morning Boost class is all about raising your energy in the morning. In addition, there are classes designed to help ease anxiety and stress through breathing.
The app also includes multi-day challenges to help you stick with the habit. You can motivate yourself by tracking individual stats, such as your maximum exhale and breath-holding ability. Overall, Breathwrk is a powerhouse breathing app packed with helpful content.
Practice guided breathing, adjust your own intervals, and enjoy minimal distractions with the iBreathe app. The app's presets (such as box breathing) are meant to address anxiety and stress, which is helpful to know if this is one of your goals.
A simple, no-frills, app, iBreathe invites you to inhale and exhale at various intervals. The cues are minimal and easy to follow, appearing on a calming blue screen. You can also see how many breath cycles remain in each exercise.
On the intervals screen, you can select from different breathing techniques, including 4-7-8, ujjayi, and box breathing exercises. There's also a custom section that lets you set the inhale, exhale, and hold intervals to your own liking.
Note that there are ads within the app, some of which feature videos you cannot skip. You can pay to remove the advertisements, however.
For the most part, the iBreathe app is a great choice for someone interested in a straightforward breathing app with few distractions. It's a handy way to learn several classic breathing methods.
Download: iBreathe for iOS (Free)
3. Wim Hof Method
This official Wim Hof app provides info on the breathing techniques developed by the Dutch motivational speaker and athlete. If you're looking for a unique and sometimes intense approach to breath work, then this app might pique your interest.
For the most part, the Wim Hof method of breath work involves taking 30-40 deep breaths in one session, followed by a period of holding your breath for several moments. This style of breathing aims to help keep the body in peak condition.
Note that the Wim Hof breathing method does consist of hyperventilating for a number of breaths and that it may cause lightheadedness in some individuals. There are also frequent reminders throughout the app to practice the breathing exercises when you're in a safe area, and never while driving or near a body of water, for example.
Within the app, you can adjust the exercises to your liking. During the breathing sessions, you'll get to select a slow, normal, or fast pace. Hof's voice tells you when to breathe in and out, offering advice throughout. At any time you can tap the screen to go into retention, which is where you hold your breath.
In addition to the breathing exercises, the app includes stretching courses and physical exercises. There’s also a section on cold shower challenges if you want to go full-on Hof—the chilled showers may help reduce stress and increase alertness, according to the app—but this is up to you.
4. The Breathing App
With input from the musician Moby and author Deepak Chopra, The Breathing App aims to make resonant breathing a part of everyday life for more people. Learn more about this method of slowing down your breathing rate with help from this free app.
With simple, clean graphics and an easy-to-use interface, The Breathing App encourages you to sync your breaths with the animation of a growing silver sphere. One tone signifies inhale, and a different one tells you to exhale.
You can adjust the amount of time you spend inhaling and exhaling by changing the ratios. You might enjoy a longer exhale (such as the 2:3 ratio). Or, you may prefer matching the lengths of inhale and exhale (such as the 4:4 ratio). Experiment to find which suits your breathing best.
As YouTuber Mrs. Bush of The Moore Physed Experience explains, The Breathing App is a handy resource for practicing meditation and mindfulness, as well as reducing anxiety. If this is appealing, then consider the many meditation tools available online, including ebooks, podcasts, and apps.
Try Breathing Apps to De-Stress and Feel Calm
If you're already of fan of the many meditation apps out there, then breathing apps are worth a look, too. When it comes to helping center yourself and reduce stress, apps with breathing exercises are wonderful companions.
5 Instant Calming Apps to Relieve Stress, Beat Anxiety, and Battle Negative Thoughts
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