Breathing is the first thing we do when we’re born and it’s the last thing we do before we die.
The power of breathing is extremely undervalued in great parts of the western world. Because it’s a subconscious habit we are often unaware of its power. Hold your breath for a moment and think about it. We need our breath because it is the most important source of energy for all the cells in the body. The breath keeps our heart pumping and our brain and body functioning. The breath is truly fascinating and can do so much for us when we use it properly.
Besides keeping us alive, breathing has a lot of unrealized potentials. It’s not for nothing that personal development trainers like Anthony Robbins and Brendon Burchard emphasize the benefits of these techniques in their content and sessions.
I recently followed some breathing classes in Rishikesh, India where we experimented with several techniques. Since the courses, I’ve integrated two breathing techniques into my morning routine. I will highlight and explain both of them.
1) The one-minute breath
This breathing technique grounds and centers me. Even when I wake up in a bad mood this technique makes me feel better right away. I’m not execrating. That’s why I’m so excited to share it.
Other benefits I found are:
- Optimized cooperation between the brain hemispheres;
- Dramatic calming of anxiety, fear, and worry;
- Intuition develops;
- The whole brain works, especially the old brain and the frontal hemispheres.
Instructions one-minute breath:
1) Sit comfortably on the ground or a chair with a straight spine.
2) Inhale for 20 seconds;
3) Hold your breath for 20 seconds;
4) Exhale for 20 seconds;
5) Relax for 15 seconds and repeat;
Always inhale down to your lower stomach and fill up from there.
If you are new to this exercise performing it for one minute (20-20-20) is probably too difficult. Start with 4 seconds inhale, holding your breath for 4 seconds and exhaling for 4 seconds. Relax your breath and add 2 seconds. So the next round will look like this:
1) Inhale for 6 (4+2) seconds;
2) Hold your breath for 6 (4+2) seconds;
3) Exhale for 6 (4+2) seconds;
4) Relax for 15 seconds and repeat.
Now add 2 seconds every round until you find it difficult and stop here. I always start with 4-4-4 seconds and build it up to 20 seconds.
When to perform?
I would recommend adding this technique to your morning routine. But you can do it anytime you don’t feel centered or at ease.
2) The fire breath (Bhastika)
This is a traditional kundalini yoga breath and it helps increase prana (the main energy force) in your body. Personally, this exercise energizes my body so I do it every morning at the end of my meditation practice. I like to refer to it as my first cup of coffee of the day. And with a reason:
- It is good for brain oxygenation;
- It benefits the nervous and the motor system;
- It is great for energizing the body and the mind;
- It helps strengthen immunity
Instructions Bhastrika breathing:
1) Sit comfortably in a chair with a straight spine. Take a few deep breaths from your nose down to your lower belly.
2) Start in- and exhaling forcefully through your nose for one second per breathing cycle.
3) Repeat step 2. 15 times.
4) Pause for 30 seconds and repeat step 2. 25 times.
5) Pause again for 30 seconds and repeat step 2. 35 times.
– This is not the right exercise right after you have eaten, when it is very hot or when you suffer from high blood pressure.
– Always make sure the breath is coming from your diaphragm. So relax the rest of your body.
When to perform?
This exercise is extremely beneficial in the morning because it get’s your ‘inner fire’ going. But you can do it any time of the day you feel you need extra energy.
To conclude, the two techniques benefit me tremendously. One really grounds and centers me while the other gives me a shit load of energy. However, there are many techniques built around the breath so I always recommend researching yourself. Believe me, using the possibilities of your breath is really addictive and stimulating. But in contrary to drugs or other stimulants there are no downsides. Breathing is totally free and available from the morning your born until the day you die. So use it pro-actively!