• Caroline Hey

Breath Exercises



Hello beautiful Souls,

Welcome to Somatic Balance.108, I am Caroline Hey, your mindfulness practitioner. In this Blog Post, I’d like to talk to you about the power of breath.


Prāṇāyāma


Pranayama is the practice of breath regulation. It's a main component of mindfulness practices, an exercise for physical and mental wellness. In Sanskrit, “prana” means life energy and “yama” means control. The practice of pranayama involves breathing exercises and patterns.


The five most known types are:


• Anulom-vilom Pranayama

Also known as Nadi Shdodhana (alternate nostril breathing)


This breath-work is probably the third easiest exercise, as it combines the breath with physical movement.

One sits upright, either in a chair, with legs not crossed and feet firmly flat on the ground. Or in one of the following three seated position such as Padmasana (Full Lotus), Sukhasana (Easy Lotus/ general cross legged), or Vajrasana (Kneeling pose).


Closing down the eyes, if that feels comfortable, using the left hand and placing the thumb on the left nostril, the index and middle finger on your 3rd eye between your eyebrows, and your ring finger on your right nostril.

Push your ring finger against your nose to seal the right nostril shut, and breathe in deeply through the remaining open left nostril.

Once fully inhaled, close down the left nostril by pushing your thumb against your nose. Be aware of the brief moment between the inhale completed and the exhale to come.

Release your ring finger from the right nostril and exhale fully.

Reverse your action, and repeat.


As your right nostril is open, inhale fully before closing it shut with your ring finger pushing against the center of your nose, acknowledge the brief pause between inhale and exhale and open your left nostril to release.


Repeat this for approx 2 mins, and finish off on the LEFT side exhale.


Stop earlier if you start to feel light headed. But make sure to finish on the left.



• Bhramari Pranayama

(or Bee breathing)

This probably the easiest for beginners. As it doesn’t require any support or movement.

It nurtures peace in your being, which in turn, results in self-healing. The Bhramari Pranayama lowers one's blood pressure, thus relieving hypertension. It releases cerebral tension, hence it is recommended as a nightly routine yoga for better sleep. It soothes the nerves.


To start you should sit on the floor, a yoga mat, or a soft pillow with your legs out front, or in a lotus position. Close down your eyes if that feels comfortable.


Place your index fingers in your ears, right around your cartridge.

Breathe in through your nose and when exhaling hum like a bee. The vibration created by the humming will realign your entire body. Similarly like a yogi does the ‘OM’ sound during Yoga Nidra.

Repeat the inhale and the humming exhale 6 to 7 times.


This exercise is recommended during the evening before bed time as it relaxes the brain activity (visionary brain part), and allows the brain to slow down.



• Sama Vritti Pranayama

(Also known as Box breathing.)

This is the 2nd easiest breath-work exercise you can practice. You either sit upright in a chair, with legs not crossed and feet firmly flat on the ground, or in a soft lotus position on the floor, or you can even lay down on a yoga mat or in your bed before you go to sleep.

Once you have found a position that is comfortable to you, close down your eyes.

You breathe through your nose only.

Start with 4 counts while inhaling, hold for 4 counts, then exhale for 4 counts, then hold on the bottom of that exhale for 4 counts … and repeat.

Like a 4 sides box.


Repeat this cycle for 2 mins.


Once you have established a consistent level of breath, at have practiced this at least 10 to 15 times as instructed above, you might want to extend your counts to 5 or 6 seconds. Be mindful, this is not a breath holding contest. This is to relax your nervous system not to stress it. Please never exceed your holding period beyond your comfort zone.


• Kapalbhathi Pranayama

(The breath of fire, or dragon breath.)

You might want to blow your nose before this exercise, as forcefully exhales will eject what doesn’t below in there.

This is probably the hardest for beginners. As it combines the breath with physical movement in your stomach region.

One sits upright, either in a chair, with legs not crossed and feet firmly flat on the ground. Or in one of the following three seated position such as Padmasana (Full Lotus), Sukhasana (Easy Lotus/ general cross legged), or Vajrasana (Kneeling pose).


Closing down the eyes, if that feels comfortable. One starts with an exhale to fully empty out all stale old air from all corners of one’s body, through the mouth. Followed by a deep inhale through the mouth. This repeats three times.

Make sure you are not inhaling through the mouth and exhaling through the nose, as this will lead to light-headedness due to over oxygenating your brain too fast.


After the third round, your 4th inhale is deep and slow. You hold on the top for just a brief moment to acknowledge the pause between inhale and exhale and then forcefully, fast and rapidly exhale from the stomach through your nose.

Puff, Puff, Puff… the inflate is taken care of by your body, you just focus on the fast, forceful exhales 30 times over.


Then breathe fife times normally, calm before engaging into another round.

Once you get used to it, you should repeat this 30 breathe exercise 5 times.


• Bhastrika Pranayama

(Or I call it Tony Robbins breathing.)

You might want to blow your nose before this exercise, as forcefully exhales will eject what doesn’t below in there.

This technique is very similar to the above, but it involves the movement of the arms, too. One should sit in a chair upright with legs not crossed and feet firmly flat on the ground, or in Vajrasana (Kneeling pose).

Your arms are folded upward, with your elbows tucked into your waist, similar to the moment before you shout ‘Hooray’ at a footy game. Your hands are closed into a lose fist, thumbs pointing at your shoulders.


Take one calm, controlled breath in and out with full awareness.


Then start the exercise. Nose breathing only.

When you inhale, you stretch your arms fully extended over your head, and spread your finger wide apart like rays of sun.

When you exhale, you push all air fast and forcefully out through your nose and pull your arms equally rapidly down. Your arms are always close to the body.


Fully Inhale = arms up

Forcefully fast exhale = rapidly jerking your arms down


After 5 slow inhales, and 5 rapid exhales, you take one long controlled inhale and then rapidly exhale 30 times along with the arm movement.

Similarly to the Breath of fire.


For any questions you may have, or if you are interested in a Zoom session for instructions, please reach out.


Book your breath introduction Zoom here:

https://www.carolinehey.com/contact


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