by Cindy VanDyke
In today's blogpost, I am going to share two breaths with you today: one for energy, and one for clarity.
How to Take Proper Full Breaths
The first thing to understand is that you only have one breathing muscle, your diaphragm. All your inhaling and exhaling is done from this muscle. Place your hand under your ribs, but above your belly button, in a way that your thumb is resting at the lower edge of your ribs. There is where your diaphragm is.
When you inhale, you want your hand and belly to rise. As you exhale, you want your belly and hand to sink back down, or in. We are so used to holding our belly in and breathing in through our upper lungs, we have allowed our diaphragm to get a little sleepy.
Take a moment and do a few breaths focusing on your hand, belly, and diaphragm. Inhale to a count of 4, and exhale to a count of 5. Breathe in and out through your nose if you can. When we exhale through our mouth, we tend to release or let go, but the purpose here is to find ways to increase or maintain our energy.
Breath for Energy: Kapalabhati
Now, the first breath I’m going to share is really like a breath with an added punch. It is called the kapalabhati, the shining skull, or the breath of fire if you practice it often and fast. But for this purpose, we want to be gentle and use it to increase our energy.
This uses the same technique of inhale belly rises, except this time when you exhale you use two pumps of that diaphragm to forcefully push the air out. Notice how after you exhale you automatically inhale, and a little deeper than before. The lovely little trick of two pumps is that it pushes all the old stuck air out so you can inhale deeper and bring in more oxygen. It also massages your organs, so that digestion and elimination processes work better. When we eliminate stale or stuck air from our lungs and toxins from our bowels, we feel better, and our energy and clarity improve.
Breath for Clarity: Nadi Shodhana
The second breath is called nadi shodhana, or the balance breath. This one might be a little tricky but brings balance with calmness. It integrates the left and right sides of your brain which allows the logical and the creative sides of your brain to intertwine and flow together.
This breath is done through the nose, one nostril at a time. Bring your hand up toward your face and close your right nostril, then exhale from your left. Then inhale left, close left, and exhale right. Inhale right, close right, and exhale left. Do this a couple times. Even if you only practice this breathing exercise for five minutes, it will bring you calmness, balance, and clarity.
Sometimes we need to open a passage or a bit of our sinus way. To do this, just press your finger against your cheek and pull gently toward your ear to make an opening.
These breaths are lovely little tools that you can do any time you feel tired, sluggish, or lacking in energy.
Next time, we will discuss some more tools that can help us keep our energy flowing!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in blog entries are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Heart Niagara.