Our breath is one of the simplest, most natural components of our lives. In every moment, we constantly cycle air through our bodies and minds, taking in the energy of our surroundings, and impressing our environment with a small part of ourselves.
Unfortunately, many of us rarely stop to notice our breath. It is something we take for granted, and, in the process, we often cut ourselves off from it.
When we do not take the time to draw our attention to our breath, we have a tendency to shorten it. The stresses of modern life – all of our anxieties, fears, and worries – create a shortness that closes us off, and prevents us from expanding and releasing the air and energy within us.
In Vedic practices, this energy is called prana. It is a word that refers to our breath, but also the life force, the vitality, that is inherent with that breath.
Related Post: Understanding Prana
When we learn how to breathe better, we expand that prana, creating a higher level of energy, awareness, and vitality within us.
Here are a few tips to teach yourself how to breathe in alignment with this natural energy.
3 Exercises To Train You To Breathe Properly
Ujjayi Pranayama is a simple breathing technique that is known to help calm the mind and warm the body. If you’ve ever taken yoga, you may have be familiar with this one as it is a very common technique for beginners.
- Come into a comfortable seated meditation pose. Whatever is most comfortable for you, as long as your spine is erect. Take a few moments to notice your natural breath.
- When you’re ready, constrict slightly as you inhale and exhale. Continue breathing, in and out through the nose, with the constriction in the throat creating a very slight resistance to your breath.
- This resistance should be an audible sound, similar to ocean waves to even Darth Vader. This will allow you to gain deeper control over your breath.
2. Nadi Shodhana
Nadi Shodhana or alternate nostril breathing is a very powerful breathing technique often used by those hoping to connect with their third-eye chakra. Alternate nostril breathing can help calm the mind through increased relaxation.
- Sit in a quiet, comfortable place.
- Place your right hand over your face, pressing your index and middle fingers up towards your forehead, lightly against your third-eye center. Meanwhile, hold the thumb and ring finger on either side of your nose.
- It can be helpful, to begin with, a full exhale from each nostril, clearing them of any excess mucus to achieve a soft, easy inhalation and exhalation as you move through the practice.
- Close the right nostril with your thumb and inhale through the left. Make sure you are pressing hard enough to stop air from entering this nostril, but not so hard as to push your cartilage against the bone in the center of your nose.
- After a complete inhale, close the left nostril with your ring and exhale out through the right nostril.
- Exhale all the air from your body and repeat, inhaling through the left nostril when closing the right and exhaling through the right nostril when closing the left.
- Repeat this process for several minutes, always changing your fingers at the top of the breath to switch the nostril you use after each inhale.
- When you feel ready, take a long and full breath through both nostrils and exhale fully. Allow your breath to return to a soft, easy pace.
Kapalabhati breath is also known as the breath of fire or the skull-shining breath. It is a fast technique that can be used to cleanse the nasal passageways and sinuses in an effort to supply the brain with a fresh supply of oxygen.
- Sit upright and comfortable with your hands resting on your lower belly.
- Inhale deeply through your nose, filling your belly with air.
- In a quick motion, contract your abdominal muscles and forcefully expel all the air from your lungs while drawing your belly button in toward your spine.
- Allow your lungs to fill up naturally as you exhale, with no active effort as your belly expands
- Perform this cycle 10 times before allowing your breathing to return to normal.
- Repeat this cycle of breath 3 to 4 times.
As you embark on your journey towards fulfillment, it’s important that your breath aligns with the energy you’d like to receive.
Give these breathing techniques a try to help increase your levels of energy, awareness, and vitality.