Pursed Lip Breathing: What It Is and How To Do It

pursed lip breathing exercise performed by Breath Coach Stephanie Esserpursed lip breathing exercise performed by Breath Coach Stephanie Esser

Pursed lip breathing is a technique you’re probably familiar with. Think about the last time you tried to calm down your anxiety. You took a deliberate, deep inhale followed by a slow exhale through very pursed lips.

We use this natural technique to catch our breath, calm our minds, or feel in control. But did you know that the pursed lip breathing exercise can also strengthen your lungs?

Let’s talk about it. 

RELATED: Physical Stress Effects On The Body

What’s Purse Lip Breathing?

breathing coach used pursed lip breathing technique

Pursed lip breathing is an exercise that allows you to gain better control of your breath. Breath control has many benefits, from helping you stop a panic attack to simply catching your breath after playing a sport. 

You’ve probably noticed that you feel more in control of your breathing when puckering your lips instead of exhaling through your nose or mouth. 

Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself: 

  • Take a deep inhale through your nose;
  • Now purse your lips and exhale through the mouth for as long as you can.

Try it again, but this time exhale through your nose. 

RELATED: 5 Benefits of Stress Relief Toys Where To Get Them

Nose breathing doesn’t come naturally to us because we start to breathe primarily through our mouths as we age. Unfortunately, mouth breathing gives us 10-20% less oxygen compared to nose breathing. And this takes a serious toll on our lungs and organs. 

This pursed breathing technique can help you transition back to the (more effective) nose breathing and all its benefits!

What Does the Pursed Lip Breathing Technique Do?

be buddy being used for purse lip breathing exercise

As a breathing coach, I work with people from all walks of life. Some have anxiety, others have digestive issues, and even more experience difficulty breathing on a day-to-day basis.  

People with medical conditions such as asthma, COPDpulmonary fibrosis, and lung cancer have weaker lungs, making it harder for them to breathe in certain situations. 

Studies show the effectiveness of this particular breathing exercise with these types of patients.

For example, a 2015 study analyzing 40 COPD patients proved that “pursed-lip breathing reduces dynamic hyperinflation and improves exercise tolerance, breathing pattern and arterial oxygenation at submaximal intensity exercise.”

That just means that the pursed-lip breathing technique can simultaneously strengthen the lungs and help you breathe well to replenish your organs with fresh oxygen. 

 We use pursed lip breathing primarily for:

  • Slowing down your breath
  • Strengthening your lungs
  • Settling your mind

RELATED: The Effects of Childhood Stress and How You Can Help

How To Do the Purse Lip Breathing Exercise

As I always say, the breath is the only thing you can take with you wherever you go. So the next time you forget your inhaler or find yourself struggling to catch your breath, you can purse lip breathing exercise to regain control. 

It’s easy to remember! Here’s how to do it:

  • ⁠STEP ONE: Relax your shoulders and soften your tummy
  • STEP TWO: Exhale the old, stale air out of your lungs
  • STEP THREE: Inhale through your nose
  • STEP FOUR: Exhale slowly through pursed lips 



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by BE Buddy® by Stephanie Esser (@bebuddy)

Daily practice is crucial if you want stronger lungs and to better manage your COPD or PF symptoms. 

Here’s how to make daily practice fun: Set a timer and see how long you can extend your exhale through pursed lips. See if you can break your own record!

If you want help increasing your lung strength with breathing exercises, please reach out! I offer FREE 15-minute consultations. Book here!

I hope this helps!  

Stephanie Esser

MA.Ed., Certified BREATHE™ Coach, RYT200, Yoga Calm® Youth Instructor I help kids surf the waves of life, one breath at a time!