Conscious Breathing Styles & Benefits

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Breath, or prana as it is called in Sanskrit, moves energy in our physical body. Breathing is automatic meaning that for most of us, it does not require conscious effort. Breathing gives life to every single cell in our body (estimated to be over 37 trillion) which then nourishes our mind and body. We have the ability to influence our breath; therefore we have the power to guide and move energy. When we regulate our breath or breathe intentionally it changes our energy flow. This is why breathwork is an effective tool in therapy; conscious breathing can bring calmness to anxiety, peace to intense emotions, and stillness to chaos. It is free, can be down alone or in a crowded room, a nd no one even has know you are moving energy in your body. Intentional breathing improves emotions, the physical body, and spiritual wellness.

Breathing is in general a two part process: inhalation and exhalation. When we inhale we absorb what we need from the universe and with each exhale we eliminate what no longer serves us. Breathing is our body’s natural way to detox.

Start off any of these breathing exercises with your normal breathing pattern. Take notice of this pattern. Feel the air enter and leave your body. When you are ready, move from automatic breath to conscious breath with one of these breathing styles:

Ujjayi
-> deepen your inhale
-> on the exhale constrict your throat muscles (activate the muscles in the jaw and tongue to constrict the throat)
-> outflow of breath is through your nose with a closed mouth
-> constrict your throat muscles on the inhale
-> Sounds like a snoring or hissing sound

To get the hang out of it: practice making a “haah” sound on the exhale, first with your mouth open then with your mouth closed. Take notice of how your throat feels and what the tongue and jaw are doing to assist this process.

Nadi Shodhana
-> inhale deeply
-> with the thumb on your right hand close off of the right nostril
-> exhale through your left nostril
-> inhale through the left nostril
-> take your thumb off of the right nostril
-> with the third and fourth fingers of your right hand close off the left nostril
-> exhale through your right nostril

You are closing off alternate nostril at the end of each exhale

Dirgha - also known as the Yogic Breath
Picture a line starting at your belly, middle of your chest (lower lungs), and ending at your collarbone (upper lungs) with a dot at each of these three areas.

The breath is done is three parts. First air will fill your belly, then lower lungs, and upper lungs
To start breathe into each area separately, then connect the pattern together

1) belly
-> slow and deep inhale
-> consciously direct the air into your lower lungs with your diaphragm
-> the air will fill your belly
-> on the exhale deflate your belly
2) lower lungs
-> fill your belly as in step 1
-> then direct the air to your lower lungs (chest area)
3) upper longs
-> fill your belly and lower lungs as in step 2
-> then direct air into your upper lungs (Collarbone area)

-> in one inhale fill all three areas starting from the belly, lower lungs, and then upper lungs
-> on the exhale empty the air in the same order -belly, lower lungs, and upper lungs

Kapalabhati
-> deep belly breathing
-> passive inhale
-> forceful exhale
-> inhale and outflow of air in through the nose with closed mouth -> Do this for about 5-10 cycles

This is a variation of the Bhastrika breath, which is forceful inhale and exhale breathes

If you feel lightheaded or another bodily sensations occur, stop the breathing pattern and resume your normal automatic breath