"Start from where you are - not from where you wish you were. The work you are doing becomes your path." - Ram Dass
The idea of "breathwork" might initially come off as one of a few things:
Confusing: "Wait, there's an art to BREATHING?"
Pointless: "I'm already breathing... like, every second... why would I have to do anything different?"
Intimidating: "I've heard of people having crazy revelations and emotional experiences during breathwork, I'm not ready for that."
These are all valid thoughts that many people have experienced, myself (very) included. But, the key when it comes to beginning any new practice is the willingness to go into the unknown without expectations; starting from exactly where you are.
If "where you are" means your breathwork practice looks like sitting up in your bed each morning, simply NOTICING your breathing for just a single minute - that is perfect.
If it looks like moving from your bed to the couch, or a pillow or cushion on the floor, and STILL just noticing your breath - that is perfect.
Once you find your "spot" - whatever that looks like for you (and it can change on a regular basis) - try to take the focus from "noticing" to "paying attention."
"How am I breathing in? My nose? My mouth?"
"How am I breathing out?"
"How long are my inhales and exhales?"
"Is one longer than the other?"
"Do I pause or hold my breath after my inhales?"
"After my exhales?"
After you get used to paying attention to how you're breathing, notice your mind. Is the volume of your thoughts turning down a bit, or do you find it difficult to shut out outside distractions or noises? Is the sheer "paying attention" agenda becoming a distraction in itself?
Remember here that the purpose is on connecting to your breath. If you find the distractions on certain days are preventing you from settling into a rhythmic, steady breathing pattern, try incorporating music, or even listening for a specific noise in the room (like a fan), to sync your breath to.
I highly recommend Biet's album "The Lunar" which compliments a breathing and meditation practice beautifully.
Slow progressions to this shift in awareness are okay (and honestly, are the key) - the key to building a strong, sustainable habit. This goes for the length of time, as well. Maybe you start with 1, or 3, or 5 minutes per day, working your way up to 30 minutes (or more, eventually!).
Try out this simple breathing practice the next time you have a moment:
Come to a comfortable seat, perhaps sitting up against the wall with a pillow or bolster behind your back, keeping the eyes open or closed.
Imagine the outline of a box, in your mind. Start in the bottom left corner of that box, and as you inhale, work your mind's eye up to the top left corner, exhale as you move to the top right corner, inhaling down towards the bottom right corner, and finally exhaling again towards the bottom left (see Option 1 photo).
Continue this, allowing each inhale to last at least 3 seconds, and each exhale to last the same - the sides of the box are equal lengths, aren't they? :)
After you've gotten into a steady breathing pattern, and perhaps have started to elongate both your inhales and your exhales, find yourself in the bottom left corner of that box again. Inhale your mind's eye to the top left corner. Now hold this, keeping the lungs full of air for an equal length of time, as you move over to that top right corner. Exhale once you're there, down to the bottom right corner. Pause here, allowing the lunges to remain empty as you move towards the bottom left corner again (Option 2).
Repeat this for a few rounds, and if you begin to feel lightheaded, take a break or shorten the lengths of your pauses (modifying by imagining more of a rectangle to breathe your way around - Option 3).
As with any yoga or breathwork practice, staying in tune with your body is highly important. Should you be advised by a medical professional to avoid this type of practice, follow that instruction. If you are otherwise healthy and choose to practice breathwork on your own, please listen to your body and if feeling lightheaded or otherwise unwell, take a break and check in with yourself, and your practitioner. While a slight amount of dizziness is considered to be "normal" while practicing breathwork, if it begins to surpass that, feeling out of your control, I urge you to take a step back and focus on your breath in other ways, not holding or breathing for as long of a time.