By Hilde Larsen
Contributing writer for Wake Up World
Changing how you breathe can foster the self-healing powers of your body.
“Are you a shallow breather also? There are a few obvious ways that you can tell, so get to it and find out. Lie down and put one hand on your chest and the other one on your abdomen. Breathe like you usually do and watch your hands. Breathe normally. If the hand on your chest raises first, you are a shallow-breather, of the one on your abdomen raises first, you are a deep-breather.
By spending time alone with our breathing, we will start to experience ourselves as more than this physical body. It is the simple way to start any meditation practice, to simply be aware of the breath. Once we become a part of our breath, or breathing, the mind loses its grip, and stillness can come forth.
This way, even the subconscious mind will start to dissolve its thought patterns. This in itself is a major key to why conscious breathing is healing on all levels. The breathing might open a flow of emotions and feelings, as you are able to really connect with them. Keep breathing and know that it is all good. It is all as it should be, you, your breathing, your healing and your future life.”
Continue to read the How Your Breathing Can Heal article here.
I am a great believer in diligence and persistence, and a follower of discipline as a great tool for manifesting growth and awareness. A consistent practice will give you real results, and by learning these breathing practices and implementing them on a daily basis, you will build muscle and find the ones you like the best.
Here is a list of what you will need:
- The space for your breathing practice. A quiet room with a matress or a bed.
- A mind that is quiet and rested. Get your calendar all situated and your diet in place.
- Make sure those around you, if you do not live alone, honor your space this week.
- 30 minutes of designated time.
- Find a breathing outfit that is light in color. Preferably white, and very comfortable. Natural fabrics like cotton, silk and linen is best.
- Reduce your stress level. I recommend making it a top priority.
- Zero focus on you having a body that is anything but healthy and beautiful.
- Absolutely no task or appointments that makes you uncomfortable. This is about allowing the breath of your future health.
- Be mindful of your breath during the day.
“Breathing deep supplies more oxygen to all our body parts including our digestive system, thus making it work more efficiently. The increased blood flow due to deep breathing also encourages intestinal action which further improves your overall digestion. In addition, deep breathing results in a calmer nervous system, which in turn also enhances optimal digestion.”
#1 This is referred to as the Lion`s Breath (Simha Pranayama):
Lion`s Breath is a powerful breath in the upper chest and throat. It cleanses out toxins, and is good for the throat chakra, and the thyroid.
Lion’s breath is performed by starting in simhasana then lowering the jaw to open the mouth wide, stretching the tongue out and curling it down. The gaze is toward the sky. The muscles at the front of the throat contract and a forceful exhalation is made with a roaring “haaaa” sound, feeling the air pass over the back of the throat. This can be repeated two or three times.
Lion’s breath is said to provide an ideal outlet for negative energy. The powerful exhalation and the engagement of the arms and shoulders are a manifestation of the release of negative energy from inside. It is said that many problems are a result of anger and resentment held inside and lion’s breath, with simhasana, releases that energy. It is important that the exhalation is strong and full of intention, not half-hearted, in order to experience the full benefits.
Lion’s breath stimulates the manipura chakra, and may also improve self-esteem and feelings of empowerment.
- Extend the tongue out to touch the chin.
- Breathe powerfully, forcing the breath over the root of the tongue, without any rasping.
Benefits of Lion`s breath or Simha Pranayama:
- Lions Breath is beneficial in relieving tension occurring in the jaws because of teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
- It prevents the throat from drooping with age as Simha Pranayama/Lion’s Breath stimulates platysma which is a thin and broad muscle. This muscle is responsible for pulling the corners of the mouth and for drooping of throat.
- Another benefit of Lions Breath is that it promotes good posture and apparently increases confidence level.
- With Simha Pranayama or Lions Breath, the tongue is stretched and subsequently the blood circulation is increased to throat and tongue.
- It improves your vocal tone.
- Lions Breath is beneficial in releasing the tension accumulated in neck and chest.
- It helps relieve the anger and frustration and promote healthy living.
- Simha Pranayama is also said to treat menstrual problems in women.
- Simha Pranayama or improves digestion and helps relieve Reproductive problems.
Learn how to practice Lion`s breath.
#2 This is referred to as Sitali Pranayama:
Sitali Pranayam is known to have a powerful relaxing effect on the body, while maintaining alertness. It is known to lower fevers, and aid digestion.
Sitali pranayama is a yogic breathing exercise that is designed to both calm the mind and cool the body. The term comes from the Sanskrit, sitali, meaning “cooling” or “soothing”; prana, meaning “life force”; and ayama, meaning “extension.” To practice sitali pranayama, the tongue is rolled and then the breath is drawn in through the tongue as if through a straw.
Sitali pranayama differs from many other types of pranayama that are intended to warm the body.
- Curl the tongue into a ‘U” shape.
- Inhale through the curled tongue.
- Exhale through the nose. This breath is also used with Breath of Fire and with Segmented Breaths in some kriyas.
- You may notice the tongue tasting bitter at first. This is a sign of detoxification and will pass.
Inhale and exhale through the curled tongue.
Benefits of Sitali Pranayam:
- Regulates digestive + sexual energy
- Relaxes the body + mind
- Cools anger + fever
- Brings concentration + clarity + calm
Your tongue may taste bitter at first — a sign of detoxification and purification. This is good! As you continue to practice, your tongue will become sweet.
The shifts you’ll feel after practicing Sitali Pranayam are profound, like stepping out of an old you and into a new, clear, purified self.
Learn how to practice the Sitali Pranayam
#3 This is referred to as Bhastrika or Bellows breath:
Yoga offers a variety of techniques for fanning the fire, all focusing on the navel center. One of the most straightforward is a breathing practice called bhastrika, or bellows breathing.
This vigorous pranayama involves a rapid series of active inhalations and exhalations. Just as a bellows draws in air and pushes it across glowing coals to generate heat, bhastrika uses the action of the abdominal muscles and diaphragm to draw air in and out of the lungs, generating heat in the body by squeezing blood through the digestive organs, toning the liver, spleen, stomach, and pancreas, and increasing digestive capacity. It can also keep winter colds at bay by clearing the nasal passages, sinuses, and lungs.
- Sit in a steady, comfortable posture with the spine straight.
- Take a few deep, even diaphragmatic breaths through the nostrils. When you’re ready to begin, exhale by contracting the abdominal muscles quickly and forcefully, followed immediately with a quick diaphragmatic inhalation of equal force, letting the abdominal muscles relax completely.
- The challenge here is to coordinate the action of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles so the air moves in and out of the lungs quickly: as the abdominal muscles relax at the end of an exhalation, the diaphragm actively contracts to begin the inhalation; as the diaphragm begins to release its contraction after the peak of inhalation, the abdominal muscles immediately contract. It will take time and attention to coordinate these movements.
- Both the exhalation and the inhalation will be audible through the nostrils; the goal is to make them equal in both duration and force.
Bhastrika should be practiced only on an empty stomach. Early morning is ideal; before lunch and/or late afternoon are good times, too.
Doing this invigorating practice at bedtime can cause insomnia.
At first, limit yourself to 7–11 breaths, or repetitions. Then pause and rest with a slow, deep diaphragmatic breath. This constitutes one round. Do 1–3 rounds daily, gradually increasing the number of breaths per round by 5 each week. Aim for one inhale/exhale per second.
Over time, you can work your way up to 3 rounds per session and 3 sessions per day, increasing the vigor and speed of practice up to 2 breaths per second. You can also continue to increase the number of repetitions within each round by 5 each week. Always stay within your comfortable capacity.
Benefits of Bhastrika or Bellows breath:
- This is the best breathing exercise for lungs. It makes the lungs healthy and improves strength. It directly affects all respiratory system of body and cures all lungs related problems.
- Very helpful for cold, flu, sinus and asthma.
- Thyroid, tonsils and all throat problems are helped.
- It is very helpful to cure all heart diseases like angina, arteries blockages, etc .
- Highly recommended for Brain symptoms like Depression, Migraine, Parkinson’s Disease, Paralysis, etc.
- Helps to remove impurities of blood. Vata (wind/spirit/air), pitta (bile) and kapha (phlegm) are balanced so as to make body healthy.
- Good for concentration of mind that helps for kundalini jagran.
Learn how to practice Bhastrika or Bellows breath here.
Note! Avoid Bhastrika if you have an ulcer, hiatal hernia, chronic constipation, heart disease, high blood pressure, or moderate to severe nasal congestion. Avoid this pranayama during menstruation and pregnancy.
#4 This is referred to as Ocean`s breath or Ujjayi Pranayama:
This is a great calming practice that you can use if you feel angry, frustrated or irritated. It will calm the mind and settle the whole body.
- Take an inhalation that is slightly deeper than normal. Keep your mouth closed, and exhale through your nose. We always use our nostrils in pranayama. Try to imagine that you are breathing out as if you were fogging a mirror. That is the type of air you want to come out. Like the sound of the ocean.
- Try to constrict your throat on the inhale as well.
Practice the inflow breath first, and then slowly use the same technique on outflow. Gently constrict your throat on your outflow.
Benefits of Ocean`s breath:
- Improves concentration.
- Instills endurance that enhances a flowing practice by lending a meditative quality that maintains the rhythm of the class.
- It diminishes distractions and allows the practitioner to remain self-aware and grounded in the practice.
- Ujjayi breath regulates heating of the body. The friction of the air passing through the lungs and throat generates internal body heat. It is similar to a massage for the internal organs; as the core becomes warm from the inside, the body becomes prepared for the asana practice. This heat makes stretching safer while the inner organs can be cleansed of any toxins that have accumulated.
- A focused Ujjayi breath can release tension and tight areas of the body.
- Additional benefits of Ujjayi pranayama include diminished pain from headaches, relief of sinus pressure, decrease in phlegm, and strengthening of the nervous and digestive systems.
Learn how to practice Ocean`S breath or Ujjayi here.
#5 This is referred to as Bhramari Pranayama:
Bhramari pranayama is very effective in instantly calming your mind down. It is one of the best breathing exercises to release the mind of agitation, frustration or anxiety and get rid of anger. A simple-to-do technique, can be practiced anywhere at work or home, and an instant option available to de-stress yourself.
This breathing technique derives its name from the black Indian bee called Bhramari. (Bhramari = type of Indian bee; pranayama = breathing technique)
The exhalation in this pranayama resembles the typical humming sound of a bee, which explains why it is named so.
- Sit up straight in a quiet, well ventilated corner with your eyes closed. Keep a gentle smile on your face.
- Place your index fingers on your ears. There is a cartilage between your cheek and ear. Place your index fingers on the cartilage.
- Take a deep breath in and as you breathe out, gently press the cartilage. You can keep the cartilage pressed or press it in and out with your fingers, while making a loud humming sound like a bee.
- You can also make a low-pitched sound but it is a good idea to make a high-pitched one for better results.
Breathe in again and continue the same pattern for 6-7 times.
Keep your eyes closed for some time. Observe the sensations in the body and the quietness within. You can also practice Bhramari pranayama lying on your back or lying on your right. While practicing the pranayama while lying down, just make the humming sound and do not worry about keeping your index finger on the ear. You can practice the Bee pranayama 3-4 times every day.
Benefits of Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Breath):
- Calms and quiets the mind
- Releases cerebral tension
- Stimulates the pineal and pituitary glands, supporting their proper functioning
- Soothes the nerves
- Relieves stress and anxiety
- Dissipates anger
- Lowers blood pressure
- Bolsters the health of the throat
- Strengthens and improves the voice
- Supports the healing of bodily tissues
- Induces sound sleep
You can learn how to do Bhramari Pranayama here.
Bhramari (as with most pranayamas) is best practiced on an empty stomach. While it can be practiced at any time of day, bhramari is particularly potent in the early morning and late at night- when there are fewer distracting noises and our inner perception is most acute.
#6 Breath of fire or Kapalabhati Pranayama:
Breath of Fire is without a doubt the most sophisticated Pranayama (breath control). It is an amazing tool that fights against anxiety, nerves, fears, pain, and depression.
Yogi Bhajan said that a person has been granted a predetermined number of breaths from birth till his death, and breath of fire is ONE (from the moment you start until you end). This means that you can prolong your life span by doing Breath of Fire!
The Pranayama practitioners say the way we feel is directly related to the way we breathe. When dealing with challenging or stressful life situations, our body has an unconscious tendency to pull the diaphragm in. This is the area of the Solar Plexus, where the body keeps all of its emotions.
Kapalabhati helps to make the motions of your diaphragm very easy and controlled. This helps it to discard the muscle cramps present in bronchial tubes. A lot of force is used to do this pranayama. While exhaling, the process is very strong and while inhaling, the process is very calming. It is a very energizing technique, and when done correctly it will reboot all your muscles. It is also a cleansing technique that places emphasis on cleaning the air passages and blockages in the chest.
“There are seventy-two thousand nerves in our body. Out of the entire seventy-two thousand , seventy-two are the most important. Out of these seventy-two, ten are vital. In India, they say that if the third Chakra (one of the focal points where all the seventy-two thousand nerves meet), is not in balance, a person cannot be healthy no matter how much medicine he is taking. A way to balance this out is by doing Breath of Fire in “stretch pose“. “
This is a wonderful breathing technique to help the mind and soul, as it helps to awaken the spiritual power which heals many problems facing many of us today.
- Breathe in and out through the nose (or mouth).
- Pull the abdomen in towards the diaphragm during the exhalation and out during inhalation.
- This is very fast, as fast as 2 or 3 times per second, and also very loud.
- The people next to you should be able to hear you.
- When perfected, the rate should be 120 to 180 times per minute!!
“You can build up from there to forty-five second periods for two or three minutes. Soon you will be able to do this for long periods of time without stopping or feeling discomfort.”
Benefits of Breath of Fire:
- Cleanse yourself of toxic air. Kapalabhati clears the body from the constant intake of toxins, thus detoxifying it. This technique helps to replace any toxic air with fresh air.
- Breathing in this way lightens your skull by extracting problems like sinusitis. This is an invigorating and energizing practice as it fills your stuffy skull with fresh air.
- The practice also improves bowel movements which rids the body of the many diseases.
- Excellent for Respiratory Problems
- It is also one of the best exercises for asthma patients and people suffering from respiratory problems.
- This stimulating breath can do wonders for every single tissue in your body.
- The breathing technique will invigorate your spine.
- Increases Blood Circulation
- It is also useful for maintaining blood pressure.
- The abdominal organs also become strengthened from the pressure applied to these organs while breathing and exhaling.
- It increases the blood circulation due to fresh supply of blood. It is also useful for removing impurities from the blood.
- The abdominal area is toned with the help of this breathing technique. It helps clear the entire nervous system which proves to be very useful in making the body fit.
- Helps with Decision Making
- A sense of calmness is also achieved due to the lightness of the skull. Kapalabhati helps one to think better and make decisions quickly while also keeping the mind alert.
Learn how to practice the breath of fire.
Kapalabhati Pranayama is not recommended for those who suffer from cardiac problems, hernia and spinal disorders. In addition, those who suffer from severe respiratory infections, colds and nasal obstruction should not perform this breathing and cleansing technique. Most physicians usually ask people suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes to refrain from performing this breathing technique. Those with abdominal ulcers should also avoid performing the technique. If you are pregnant, you should not practice this type of breathing exercise.
Breathe deeply and live stronger!
And make sure you watch my FREE webinar for tips on HOW TO DETOXIFY THE RIGHT WAY!
I specialize in:
Autoimmune, Lyme, Digestive Health, Chronic Fatigue, Parasites, Candida, Spiritual and Mental Health.
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About the author:
Hilde Larsen, known as ‘the one who Inspires’, is the CEO and founder of inspiredbyhilde.com. She is a certified Health and Mindset Coach, an Author, a Keynote Speaker, Detox Specialist, Raw food Teacher and Life-Enthusiast. Her glowing enthusiasm for health and vitality has the leading role in her work. Her interest in healing and spiritual growth also led her to become a Reiki Healer. She is highly intuitive and has a strong connection to Mother Earth and the spiritual world.
Hilde Larsen writes articles, and has her own blog and YouTube channel. She is the author of three published books: ‘From HELL to Inspired’, ‘Know the Truth and Get Healthy’, and ‘No More Bullshit’. She creates online video programs and has her own membership site, The Inspired Members.
Born and raised in Stavanger, Norway, she and her husband of 29 years have a second home in Florida, USA. She is a proud mother and grandmother, and a tree-hugger at heart. Called by nature and spirit, she is inspiring many to take back their power, and to live a healthy successful life doing what they love. Hilde now spends her time traveling between Norway and Florida, speaking, and appearing on different media as the Inspired health and thought leader. She is an authority in her field who has walked her talk. She also values the time with her clients, and her time in nature with her closest family and friends.