We can begin with the simple act of inhale, this is sucking air into our nostrils, and exhale, that’s blowing air out of our nostrils. Scientifically speaking, the breath is composed of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide.
There is conscious breathing, which is the type we practice in Eastern Arts and meditation, and then there is unconscious breathing that is regulated by our brainstem and keeps us alive. Ideally, we train the unconscious breath to become a deep, “clean” conscious and then we do not have to work so hard to behold a restorative breath.
There are tremendous benefits to be gained by developing our deep breathing skills. Think of the deep breath as the nourishment for the entire self. Energizing the body with the breath helps the body become more alive. We can strengthen the body with sleep, nutritious food and breathing alone.
As we develop better breathing habits we increase our breath capacity and breathe strength. Deep breathing helps reduce stress by calming the nervous system, strengthens the circulatory system, increases lung capacity, lowers blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health. Physically, we have more energy and are more relaxed when we practice regular deep breathing. With ALL those amazing benefits, I wonder why I didn’t start deep breathing earlier!
The result of better breathing on the mind is increased concentration, focus and clarity. We will delve further into these components in the next installment of this series, which is meditation.
Spiritually, when we nourish our bodies with our breath then our bodies relax and our minds open. The result is the beautiful rays of pure, white light that shine from our souls!
In Daoist breathing, we can heal our bodies channeling the breath to send the healing white light (breath energy) to our bodies to cleanse and nourish the self, internally and externally.
It just makes sense to spend time consciously breathing every day!
Here are a few breathing exercise to try every day:
A long, slow, deep breath that draws all the way into the belly and back and then slowly releases from there. Inhale is shorter than exhale: try inhaling for three seconds and exhaling for six seconds.
This is a great way to calm the nervous system!
Challenge yourself to just nine deep breaths every day, once accomplished that task; then try nine deep breaths morning, noon and night.
Eventually, you will be able to fill in the gaps to truly energize and calm the self.
Daoist Breathing , Qi (Chi) Energy Breath
Try sitting tall in lotus position or lying on your back, corpse pose, with your hands on your belly.
In the beginning, it is much easier to identify the deep breath if you lay on your back. A good way to cure insomnia is: corpse pose while counting the deep breaths until you drift off. If you count your breaths, you can’t think and this is usually the problem!
To begin the deep inhale: breathing in through the nostrils, imagine the breath as white light drawing down into the body from the nostril all the way to the root, right underneath the belly button. (The root is 3 inches underneath your belly button, 3 inches into the body.)
Once the breath is expanded into the root; then, exhale from the root to the crown (or nostrils.) This action of root breathing expands the belly and back and then contracts it.
This is the action of expanding & contracting your energy, or chi.
Training this breath will help you identify then build the life source, which is the root power. You can use this chi energy to heal and cleanse you and others.
Breath of Fire , Kundalini Breathing
Practice short, rapid breaths that take the energy into the diaphragm and then contract the abdomen to slightly force the exhale out of your nostrils.
Repeat in short increments until you get the strength, pace and endurance to sustain breath for longer periods.
Breath of fire seds bursts of oxygen to the whole body and nourishes the blood and strengthens the organs. Feel invigorated!
Alternate Nostril Breathing , Nadi Sodhana
Place your right index onto your third eye. Begin by placing the thumb on the right nostril, inhaling up the left nostril. Cover the left nostril with your middle finger and exhale out the right nostril.
Once there, alternate between lifting and lowering your thumb and middle finger until you perform nine rounds of breathing. Then you reverse the direction of the breath work for nine more rounds.
Thefresh oxygen revitalizes the mind and nervous system, activates the pituitary and thyroid glands and evens out the two hemispheres of the brain.