As a health and fitness editor, I’m exhaustively aware that breathing is important. It comes up constantly — in conversations surrounding stretching, running, lifting, sleeping, commuting, you name it.
Why? Well, everyone’s now wise to the fact that breathwork enhances physical performance, sharpens mental focus, and fine-tunes emotional regulation. If you can optimize your oxygen delivery, you can optimize whatever activity you’re trying to accomplish.
But there’s also breathing for breathing’s sake. The most famous is diaphragmatic breathing a deep breathing technique (popularized by Wim Hof) in which you source your diaphragm muscle to fill the lungs with air, promoting efficient oxygen intake. It’s best performed somewhere quiet and comfortable, where you can lay down, check out, and spend five minutes or more sucking in tufts of air through your nostrils, and hissing them back out through your lips, engaging and expanding your diaphragm in the process.
Done right, diaphragmatic breathing is a powerful and mindful relaxation technique, through which trainees are able to dramatically reduce their heart rate and some are even able to achieve sensations of euphoria. Personally, I’ve always envied those with a diaphragmatic habit. Anytime I’ve tried to get into it, I’ve ended up laying there feeling silly and preoccupied, wondering if I was doing it right.
Recently, though, I’ve found some success. Two reasons: A) it’s nice out again, and I like laying on the warm turf of a football field near my house, and B) I’ve started pressing play on the playlist embedded below.
Why we love this playlist
In a similar tradition to brown noise and binaural beats, Remedy Place’s playlist is somehow lovely to listen to and easy to tune out at the exact same time. It’s a bubble bath for the brain, basically, rife with hypnotic, lyric-less tones that don’t really matter individually, yet put together manage to set a perfect mood.
It’s somewhat difficult to find a reliable breathwork playlist online — unfortunately, most are hidden behind paywalls in meditation apps. And too many YouTube videos in the space feature weird, clipped loops, which can be distracting when you’re really getting in the zone. These, though…are real songs (you might recognize a Rüfüs Du Sol number on there). And if you save this playlist in Spotify, you can access it anywhere. Even at a local field.
Remedy Place — a high-end “social wellness club” in New York’s Flatiron District — uses this sort of playlist to prepare its clients for dunks into a 39°F tub. Trainers at the studio understand that breathwork, while meditative and restorative, is an active enterprise that necessitates active engagement. Hence these reverberatory tracks, which offer deep-breathers something to latch onto beyond their own intrusive thoughts or sense of boredom, both of which have a habit of hijacking breathing routines. Soothing music, on the other hand, has a proven track record of regulating heart rate, lowering blood pressure and reducing stress hormones.
One final point here: this is free. Remedy Place sure as hell isn’t, but its playlist is. Save yourself the time and take advantage of their expert curation . (As of writing, the playlist only has 75 likes!) As for how to perform diaphragmatic breathing itself, we’ve included a brief guide:
How to breathe, diaphragmatically
- Find a comfortable space: Choose a quiet and comfortable space where you can lie down without distractions. You can use a yoga mat or a soft rug to support your body.
- Position your body: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Place a small pillow under your head and neck for additional support if needed.
- Place your hands: Rest one hand on your upper chest and the other on your abdomen, just below your ribcage. This will help you feel the movement of your diaphragm during the breathing exercise.
- Inhale: Slowly breathe in through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise as the diaphragm contracts. Your chest should remain relatively still as you focus on deep, diaphragmatic breathing.
- Exhale: Gently exhale through your mouth, allowing your abdomen to fall as the diaphragm relaxes. Keep your chest still and continue to focus on the movement of your diaphragm.
- Repeat: Continue the deep breathing cycle for five to 10 minutes. Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of two, and exhale for a count of six.