Caution: Before engaging in any of the practices described on this website, please consult your physician or other health care professional to determine if these exercises are safe for you. The breathing techniques described on this page may cause difficulties with breathing if they are not practiced under the guidance of a professional practitioner. If you feel any discomfort or other difficulties associated with this practice, discontinue these breathing methods at once, and seek the attention of a health professional. For full usage rights, please read the disclaimer provided here.
B A S I C l B R E A T H I N G
- Belly Breathing
Belly breathing may also be called diaphragmatic breathing because it focuses on the proper use of the diaphragm muscle to control breathing. This technique can be used anywhere at anytime and is very useful for calming a restless mind and quickly dampening stress or anxiety.
The action of focusing awareness on the breath aligns the intentions of the body and the mind. The basis of Belly breathing is to consciously focus on breathing deeply and smoothly rather than the shallow uneven breathing we may be used to. We do this by becoming aware of the muscles and movement within our body as we breath.
Please take a moment to do this simple exercise and notice the difference. Take a deep breath in a way that you normally would. Did you notice how your upper body expands out and moves up? When we normally inhale we tend to do so by expanding our ribs and puffing up our chest. This method limits the air we intake and the area of our lungs which are used. It also causes tension to build in the shoulders and upper back because we are unaware that we are also using these muscles.
To do the belly breathing technique it is best to practice this for the first time while sitting. This way you can focus your thoughts on your breath while not worrying about balance.
Please find a comfortable place to sit and follow these steps:
1. Sit up straight. Tuck your chin back and make sure the top of your head and neck are aligned with the spine. Imagine there is a beam of energy extending from the top of your head to the base of your spine that you want to keep straight. This will ensure that air flows freely through the trachea and also relaxes the throat and neck.
2. Relax the body.Now place one hand on your chest, and the other at or just below the navel. (it doesn’t matter which hand, use whatever is most comfortable to you)
3. Now, inhale through your nose and as you breath imagine that your stomach is a ballon or a basketball that you are trying to inflate. If that doesn’t work then think of a string attached to your navel that is being pulled outward when you inhale.
4. Exhale slowly and fully through the nose. Your stomach should retract and empty almost all of the air from your lungs.
5. Notice where your breath is now going. It should be going deeper into your lungs and moving lower in your body. Take note of how much you are still expanding your ribs and upper body. If you are still using them, then you should relax those muscles. They are not needed for this type of breath.
6. Repeat the breath until you feel your stomach expanding more than your chest and ribs.
- Breath with Mantra’s
You will notice as you follow the mantra that you automatically fall into a very smooth breathing pattern. This natural flow will synchronize the mind and the body producing a hum of energy and positive vibrations.
You may want to stick with this mantra for now, and adopt another one for your regular mantra mediation. I will cover mantras in another blog post, but for now this mantra will prove to be very helpful.
As you breath with the mantra, repeat the sounds in your head. This will keep your mind from wandering and allow you to focus on your breath. This will also prepare you for future mantra meditation when you wish to repeat your chosen mantra internally. Breath in to the sound of “So”, exhale to the sound of “Hum”.
- Three-part Breathing
This breathing technique can be used in conjuction with various yoga or meditation practices. It’s a good method for clearing the lungs while taking in as full a breath as possible. Try using the three-part breath to empty your mind, just before a sitting meditation.This and some of the elemental breathing techniques are great for opening up the 7 inner gates, involving chakra.
1. When we take a deep breath, most often all we do is puff out our chest which expands the rib cage. We learned in the first part of this article that this is not the best method for inhaling as much oxygen as possible. Drawing breath into the lower part of the lungs is the preferred method for taking a more complete breath. Here we will expand on the belly-breathing technique to develop greater lung capacity.
1. To begin the three-part breath - Find a comfortable position, either seated or lying down. You may want to do a light stretch so you can thoroughly relax while settling into your position. Begin with a belly-breath - As mentioned before, draw air down into the belly, allowing it to expand. This brings air deeper into the lungs through the proper use of the diaphragm muscle. Continue breathing into the belly until you are relaxed and feel comfortable where you are at. Belly-breath for a few minutes. This gives time for your diaphragm to lengthen and stretch.
1. Allow the breath to progress into the ribs - For the next step of this method, continue breathing into the belly. At this point though, you are going to allow the air to fill a larger area of the lungs. Pulling the air in, let your rib cage expand and your lungs fill.
2. Continue with a progressive, full exhalation - As you exhale, slowly let the ribs come back to normal position before exhaling all the air from deep within the lungs. Be sure to release all the air from the lungs, as this will make your inhale come more naturally.
3. Draw the air deep, while expanding the upper body as well - At this point in the breath work, you should be comfortable drawing air deep into the lower lungs, allowing the air to continue to expand higher into the torso. Now you will draw a progressive breath. Inhale deep into the lungs with the belly-breath, then allow the air to expand the ribs, and finally raise the chest area.
4. Proceed with another progressive, full exhalation - Begin by letting your chest fall, then brining the ribs back to the normal state. Continue exhaling by releasing the air from the bottom of your lungs. This is the final part of the three-part breath.
5. Continue as you feel comfortable - That concludes the three-part breath. I recommend continuing with a few more full breaths, until you feel your focus entirely on your breathing. This will help get you into the proper state for yoga or meditation.