6 Simple Breathing Exercises to Improve Studying

These simple breathing exercises to help you study will help keep you calm at a time when you’re stressed, pressured and anxious.

Woman with arms in the air

We know that you can find every reason under the sun to avoid studying and that getting into the right mindset is the biggest hurdle to opening your books so we are giving you 6 simple breathing exercises to help you gather your focus and put you on the path of zen. Breathing exercises are a way to be able to directly influence your state of being and learn how to access the control panel of the mind to consciously bring online parts of your brain that you need to support you while you are studying. Whether you find yourself feeling dull, foggy minded, and scattered or stressed, over stimulated and anxious you can use different breathing techniques that will help bring you back into a state of balance and strengthen your ability to intake, comprehend and store information.

You might have noticed that people naturally sigh when they are stressed – this is the unconscious wisdom housed in the respiratory system and nervous system guiding the body to taking deeper breaths out as a way to down regulate the parasympathetic nervous system (fight or flight more) and help us to relax and unwind. Try some of these exercises below to help get you in the best study mindset

#1 Counting an even breath

Counting the breath trains focus of the mind – giving yourself a tool, or a vehicle for the awareness to harness itself on to. Bringing an even rhythm to the rate of your inhale and exhale guides your nervous system into a state of balance and receptiveness helping to calm the storm of the mind and bring you into a steady state. This can be practiced at any time of the day, 

How to Practice Counting an Even Breath

  1. Find a comfortable seat where you can sit tall through your spine, it could be against a wall, on a chair with your feet on the ground or seated on a cushion.
  2. Close your eyes and begin to notice the body breathing
  3. Once the breath settles to its natural depth and steadiness count the length of your inhale breath
  4. Match the same count of your inhale to your exhale, trying to keep the breath even as you draw it in and out so it’s not surging in the first few counts.
  5. Continue this for up to 5 minutes

#2 Elongating the exhale to help calm you down

This is one of the simplest and most powerful ways you can ‘biohack’ your nervous system into down regulating – accessing the rest and digest functions, leading you to feeling calmer and clearer. This can be practiced at any time, best used for when you are wanting to feel more settled.

How to Practice Elongating the Exhale Breath.

  1. Find a comfortable seat where you can sit tall through your spine, it could be against a wall, on a chair with your feet on the ground or seated on a cushion.
  2. Close your eyes and begin to notice the body breathing
  3. Once the breath settles to its natural depth and steadiness count the length of your inhale breath
  4. Add 2 to the count of your exhale breath. So if you inhale for 6 you will now exhale for 8, making sure the breath is still easy and you are not straining or forcing.
  5. Continue this for up to 5 minutes
Sitting crossed legged in front of city skyline

#3 Increasing the inhale to increase your alertness and energy levels

This practice provides a boost of energy to their system, it helps to wake you up and bring online the brain’s capacity to intake information and draw the mind’s attention. Like a coffee for the nervous system increasing the inhale revitalises you in the times you find yourself feeling sleepy or dull or stagnant. This is perfect for a reset that can be done before sitting down to study if you need a pick-me-up.

How to Practice Elongating the Exhale Breath.

  1. Find a comfortable seat where you can sit tall through your spine, it could be against a wall, on a chair with your feet on the ground or seated on a cushion.
  2. Close your eyes and begin to notice the body breathing
  3. Once the breath settles to its natural depth and steadiness count the length of your exhale breath
  4. Add 2 to the count of your inhale breath. So if you inhale for 6 you will now exhale for 4, making sure the breath is still easy and you are not straining or forcing.
  5. Continue this for up to 5 minutes

#4 Diaphragmatic breathing Belly breathing 

The diaphragm is the muscle that acts like an internal syringe pulling the breath into the body and contracting up from the base of the belly to push it back out. When you are feeling stressed or scattered or overworked you subconsciously over use the accessory breathing muscles in your chest and your neck which can lead you to overstimulating the nervous system keeping you in a ‘fight or flight’ stress mode and cause tension in the neck, shoulders, and lower back.

Diaphragmatic breathing helps to massage all the inner organs and allow the attachment points of the diaphragm in the spine to release any built up tension around the lower back that has started to store there. This can be practiced at any time, make sure you have somewhere you can lie down for this exercise

How To Practice Belly Breathing.

  1. Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. You can place a pillow under your head or your knees for more support.
  2. Place your hands on your belly, beginning to direct the breath into the warmth and the weight of your hands you feel resting on your belly, starting to feel the movement of your diaphragm.
  3. As you inhale slowly through your nose, feel your stomach rise up in space and press into your hand.
  4. Exhale through pursed lips as if you were blowing out a candle in front of you, feeling your stomach drop down towards the earth, toning back towards your spine as you press all the breath out of the body.
  5. Continue this for up to 5 minutes

#5 Holding the space between the breaths – (Kumbhaka)

Holding the space between the breaths is a great way to clear the build up of thought patterns in the mind that lead us to feeling busy, overwhelmed or foggy headed. When we start to observe our thoughts we notice that we have the same few themes or thoughts churning over and over again through the stream of the mind, brain researchers have tracked that we have between 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day so this technique can help bring a pause to the constant storm of thoughts.

How to practice Kumbhaka

1. Find a comfortable seat where you can sit tall through your spine, it could be against a wall, on a chair with your feet on the ground or seated on a cushion.
2. Close your eyes and relax your breath.
3. Bring to bring an even ration to the breath by counting the length of the inhale and matching that count to your exhale.
4. Next begin to pause the breath for 1 or 2 counts between the inhale and the exhale. Make sure the hold is not strained.
5. Continue this pattern for up to 5 minutes.

Holding a bonsai tree with both hands

#6 Humming Bee Breath (Bhramari breathing)

This practice is an ancient teaching that the yogis still use today to help clear the clutter of the mind. When your mind is stuck on a spin cycle about something that has caused you to feel frustrated, anxious or angry – or you just need to find a clean slate for approaching something this can be done in just a few breaths and leaves you feeling refreshed. Make sure you try this in an environment where you can freely make a humming sound.

How to Practice Humming Bee Breath

  1. Find a comfortable seated position.
  2. Close your eyes and relax your breath.
  3. Place your first fingers on the tragus cartilage that partially covers your ear canal.
  4. Inhale, take a deep breath and gently close off the ears by pressing your fingers into the cartilage.
  5. As you exhale, keeping your mouth closed, make a loud humming sound, directing the vibration towards the midbrain
  6. Take 3-7 rounds


In Summary, your breath is the your best tool to help guide you through the chaos and stresses of the pressuring of studying so try a few and see how they work for you and start to become the master of your nervous system and your mind.