Breathing is one of our most critical bodily functions. While we can live for months or weeks without food or water but a fresh supply of oxygen is required every few minutes for us to survive. Breathing is not only important physiologically but also has great power spiritually. The bible speaks of how God breathed the breath of life into Adam in the story of creation in Genesis. Some translations of the bible state that it is from the breath of God that we receive life. In Hebrew the word for breath also means life. The Greek language also has a word for breath that is analogous to spirit. In the book of John, Jesus draws an analogy between the breeze and the Holy Spirit blessing an individual. The power of breath has been known and respected in many cultures and belief systems for thousands of years.
The act of breathing has an impact on both our emotional and physiological states. Conscious breathing can help to rebalance our mind and body, reconnecting us to Spirit. When we consciously practice breathing we are able to relax and sent larger amounts of oxygen to every cell in the body, especially the brain. At the same time the act of breathing includes exhaling poisonous carbon dioxide from our systems thereby cleansing our system as we also nourish it with oxygen. Practicing any of the following conscious breathing exercises even for just 1 minute will re-energize, re-focus, and reconnect you to your purpose, allowing you to proceed with our day refreshed and with a clearer mind.
Deep Breathing Exercise
Deep breathing through helps to synchronize the brain and awaken our senses. This practice can help to relax you, release stress that has built up through the day and increase productivity.
First, place your tongue so that it is touching the roof of your pallet. Take a deep breath slowly inhaling through your nose to the count of 6, deeply into the stomach. Hold the breath to the count of 3. Exhale through the mouth for a count of 6. Repeat 7 to 12 cycles or for approximately 1 minute. You may wish to place your hands over your stomach to ensure you are breathing deeply into the stomach and feel it expanding with each breath.
This practice can be repeated multiple times throughout the day or just once. This simple breathing exercise can easily be done anywhere at any time.
Bellows Breathing Exercise
This breathing exercise is also known as the Breath of Fire. Excellent breathing exercise choice when you need a quick energy boost. This exercise also calms the mind and can help relax you. Yoga practitioners also claim that this breathing exercise improves digestion and eliminates disease.
Start with clearing your nose of any blockages or mucus. Sit comfortably with a straight back. Close your mouth and connect your tongue to the roof of your pallet. Place your hands on your stomach so you can feel your stomach muscles expand and contract with each breath. Begin breathing in and out of your nose forcefully and as rapidly as possible for 12 breaths, ending with a long deep inhale and exhale. Rest breathing normally and repeat. Complete 7 cycles of bellows breathing.
This exercise is commonly practiced upon rising in the morning and one or two times during the day for an energy boost. Do not practice too close to bedtime as you may experience difficulty falling asleep.
Caution! This exercise may make you feel dizzy. Only complete as many rounds as you are comfortable with, increasing your repetitions over time. Not suggested if you are pregnant, have uncontrolled hypertension, epilepsy, seizures, or panic disorder.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
This breathing is useful when feeling anxious or stressed. The exercise has an immediate calming, de-escalating effect on the practitioner. This exercise is also helps to lower blood pressure, alleviate depression and reduce mood swings.
Clear your nose of any blockages or mucus. Sit comfortably with a straight back. Close your mouth and connect your tongue to the roof of your pallet. Place your pointer finger of your right hand over your right nostril and inhale deeply through your left nostril for a count of 6. Hold your breath for a count of 3. Place your pointer finger of your left hand over your left nostril and exhale through your right nostril for a count of 6. Hold your breath for a count of 3. Maintain your pointer finger of your left hand over your left nostril and inhale deeply through your right nostril for a count of 6. Hold your breath for a count of 3. Place your pointer finger of your right hand over your right nostril and exhale through your left nostril for a count of 6. Repeat for 7 rounds or for 3 to 5 minutes alternating breathing through each nostril. Practice this exercise daily as a regular practice or as needed for immediate calm.
Imaginative Breathing Exercise
This exercise involves both the physical act of breathing and the mental act of visualization. The exercise increases blood flow throughout the body and energy circulation. This is a useful breathing practice in managing depression, sadness and processing feelings grief and loss.
Lie flat on your back on the floor or other flat surface. Place your hands on the area just below your ribs and above your abdomen. Close your mouth and connect your tongue to the roof of your pallet. Breathe deeply through your nose and consciously for several breaths, feeling the abdomen muscles expand and contract, relaxing into the exercise. Deeply inhale through your nose and visualize the breath moving into the area beneath your hands. Hold your breath as you “see” in your mind’s eye the energy of the breath circulating through your entire body. Exhale through your nose, relaxing your body. Repeat this up to 12 rounds. This exercise can be practiced as part of a morning or evening routine.
Useful practice to ground and release pent up emotions. Practice this exercise when angry, irritated or frustrated. Decreases feelings of stress and overwhelm settles and soothes the mind. Helpful to practice this breathing exercise prior to making a difficult decision as the exercise clears the mind supporting you in seeing from different perspectives.
Sit comfortably with a straight back. Close your mouth and connect your tongue to the roof of your pallet. Inhale through the nose. Exhale with your mouth closed through the nose while tightening your throat muscles. This will make a “haaaah” or wooshing sound. Inhale with your mouth closed through the nose while tightening your throat muscles. This will make a “haaaah” or wooshing sound. As you practice this breathing exercise, slowly breathing in and out through the nose, you will recognize the breath’s sound resembling the sound of an ocean wave. Repeat this for 1 to 3 minutes. This exercise can be practiced at any time during the day as frequently as needed.
These 5 breathing exercises can be practiced interchangeably as needed or choose one exercise to practice regularly to increase your energy, vitality and connection to Spirit. By doing a breathing practice daily you will increase your energy and improve your mental focus and productivity. Make a commitment to be aware of your breath passing through you throughout the day. Be consciously aware of Spirit passing through you with each breath. Cleansing, purifying and reenergizing you physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually throughout the day. Then, take a moment to express your gratitude to God for the gift of breath.
Dawn Demers is a Strategic Coach, Change Master and speaker. Dawn’s training includes Pranic Healing, Reiki and other healing modalities in addition to traditional bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in business and psychology. Learn more about Dawn at ACORDA Strategic Coaching.