Five More Pranayama (Breathing) Exercises!

Breathe Deeply
  • “Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.” ~ L. Frank Baum
  • “Smile, breathe and go slowly.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
  • “That breath you just took… that’s a gift.” ~ Rob Bell
  • “Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.” ~ Krishnamacharya
  • “When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath.” ~ Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Five More Pranayama/Breathing Exercises!
To my great delight, y’all loved¬†last week’s newsletter, where I introduced my five favorite pranayama (breathing) exercises! As a result, I wanted to share five more with you this week ūüôā May they be of benefit!
  1. Square Breathing: When most people think of breathing, they think of inhaling and exhaling. What they don’t realize is that there are two other components¬†to each breath. In reality, each time we breathe, we inhale, pause, exhale, pause, and then repeat the cycle. We do this tens of thousands of times per day without thinking about it. When we practice Square Breathing, we¬†deliberately cause the duration of each¬†component to be the same length. For example, breathing in to the count of 4, holding/retaining¬†our breath to 4, exhaling to 4, and then again retaining our breath to 4¬†before starting the process over by breathing in. (If 4 is comfortable, you can graduate to 6. Yay you!)¬†Many people¬†have a tendency to count more quickly¬†when¬†they’re holding their breath, which defeats the purpose of this particular exercise.¬†Thanks to¬†modern technology, there’s an iPhone app that solves this problem!¬†I use the “Health through Breath –¬†Pranayama” application on my¬†phone nearly every morning and absolutely love it. There’s a free version, or you can buy the full version (which I highly recommend) for $4.99.
  2. 1:2 Breathing: This practice is called “1:2 Breathing” because your exhale is twice as long as your¬†inhale. For example, inhale to the count of 4 and then exhale to the count of 8. This form of breathing is best performed in the evening, as it’s known for¬†reducing¬†insomnia, sleep disturbances, and anxiety.
  3. Bee Breathing: You’ll see why this exercise has its name whenever it’s time for you to exhale. To begin, place your index fingers on¬†the¬†cartilage that’s between your ear and cheek. Gently press the skin to plug/cover¬†your ears, close your eyes,¬†breathe in through your nose, and as you breathe out create a buzzing/humming sound¬†that¬†originates from¬†your throat¬†(think about saying the¬†letter M for the complete exhalation).¬†This practice naturally elongates your exhalation without you having to think about it. It’s a very calming breath that quickly reduces tension, anxiety,¬†anger,¬†and frustration.
  4. Cooling Breath: In order to practice the “Cooling Breath”, you actually need to have a¬†genetic predisposition! You see, for this technique, you need to¬†stick out your tongue and curl/roll both¬†sides of your tongue inward so that your tongue looks like a straw. (Unfortunately, it’s¬†dependent on your genes whether or not you have the ability to do this.)¬†Once you’re all set up for this exercise, you simply¬†inhale through your mouth and exhale through your nose. As you’ll feel, your tongue cools down the air as you inhale (hence the name “Cooling Breath”).¬†This technique is¬†very calming and is said to release excess heat from the body,¬†to reduce the¬†body temperature, and to calm the nervous system.
  5. Lion Pose: Warning–this breathing technique will make you look like a fool, so please practice in the privacy of your own home (or local yoga studio) ūüėȬ†Sit back on your heels with your shins on the floor. Place your hands on your thighs, close your eyes, breathe in through your nose, and as you breathe out, look up toward the ceiling while you open your mouth, stick out your tongue (trying to make your tongue touch your chin), and¬†produce a loud “Haaaa” sound (this is you¬†roaring¬†like a lion… or maybe just prepping for a KISS concert).

Love, Light, & Namas’cray (the crazy in me recognizes and honors the crazy in you),

Article: Zachary H. Avery
Photo: Jason Michael
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