How to breathe

How to breathe

Actually, it’s more important to say “how to be breathed” versus “how to breath.” Breathing is natural, organic and unavoidable. It’s not something you go out and do. You can’t go “get” breath somewhere. You receive it. You don’t breathe, you are breathed.

Why is breathing so important?

Many or most of us have developed a certain internal rigidity or holding as a result of trauma, accidents, injuries, illnesses, and even ordinary life events. That holding, 240_F_60871258_xDexmIz7UQscJBqtWGOmh1pwQDtFYBCMgripping or rigidity is deep within the body, beyond even
the cellular level, at the energetic core. Massage, yoga, stretching, relaxation–all of these are helpful, but none address that deep, underlying pattern of tension, holding and rigidity.

My training in Sivananda yoga and meditation practices included a strong focus on pranayama, the art of controlling and regulating the breath. Ideally you’ll allow the breath, letting it enter, fill and nourish your body effortlessly, without controlling it. You’ll feel your body being breathed.

In the meantime, certain controlled breathing practices are extremely useful in drawing attention to the breath, watching where it catches and holds, noticing how and where it originates. The breathing practices I learned are simple but profound techniques that quickly calm the mind, soothe anxiety, relax the muscles, relieve stress and balance the emotions. After practicing controlled breathing, it’s useful to then surrender the breath, and to watch the body being breathed.

In classes, workshops and consultations, I teach a number of very simple but effective breathing practices. One of these is called Nadi Shodhana, also known as “alternate nostril breathing.” Here’s how you do it:

1. Using your right hand, press your right thumb on the right side of your nose to close your right nostril, then inhale deeply through your left nostril for the count of seven.

2. At the top of the inhalation, press your fourth finger along the left side of your nose to close the left nostril, and retain the breath gently for the count of three.

3. Release your thumb from your right nostril and exhale smoothly and completely to the count of seven. At the bottom of the exhale, close both nostrils and retain, with no breath.

4. Open your right nostril and inhale to the count of seven; close both nostrils, retain for the count of three, and smoothly and completely exhale from the left nostril to the count of seven. Close both nostrils and retain. This is one cycle.

5. Repeat for at least five more cycles, or however long you need to feel balanced, calm and soothed.

When you’re inhaling and exhaling, try to make the breaths as smooth, slow and full as possible. When you exhale, make the exhales as complete as possible, so you’re empty of air, without forcing it out.

When you retain the breath, try to do so without a sense of holding, grabbing or gripping the breath. Soften around the retained breath. The same goes when you retain with no breath. Just allow it to be there.

You’ll learn this and other breathing techniques, as well as yoga postures to open and heal specific areas of your body as you explore your relationship with food, in most consultations and classes with me–since it’s so vital to being in your body and understanding what and how to eat. For more information on in-person and phone sessions, contact me here, or call my office at 303-588-8523.

Meanwhile, breath, and be breathed.