Breathing Lessons

Practicing Breath

1. This site encourages "practicing breath" as a constant awareness in your life. Make a commitment to conscious intentional breathing at all times and places. Breathing, when practiced with active acceptance, dynamic relaxation, and creative intention, can become a way of feeling alive in every moment.

2. The practice consists of a series of 18 breathing exercises that will step-by-step build your breathing skills. It is recommended that you do each exercise at least three times before moving on to the next.

3. You may wish to practice breathing in a more meditative pose. At such times, take care that your back remains relatively straight (remembering that the back has natural curves). If seated, move your buttocks to the outer edge of the seat, away from the chair back, since the backs of most chairs encourage slumping. If sitting cross-legged on the floor, try placing a small pillow beneath your buttocks. If lying down, it can help to elevate the knees.

4. Touching the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth enhances an important inward flow of energy.

5. Chronic contracted breathing narrows the range of both inhale and exhale. If you never fully exhale, then you have no room in your lungs for a full inhale. If you never fully inhale, then the overall capacity of your respiratory system (including lungs, diaphragm, rib cage and all of the connecting muscles of the region) diminishes. You eventually become structurally unable to take a complete breath, no matter how hard you try.

6. We use the hushing breath (sssshhhh. . . .) to affect a full exhale. By "sounding out" the breath until empty, you create the space for a full, vigorous, body-initiated inhale. Continuing practice gradually expands the respiratory system toward full capacity. Both inhaling and exhaling will become longer, deeper, and slower, even as the immediate feeling of breathing ranges from quiet pleasure to tingling joy.

7. In the beginning, use the hushing breath throughout your day and as often as circumstances allow. Especially notice those people and situations that tend to inhibit your breathing. Come awake at such times, remembering breath, moving energy, and feeling acceptance. Do a few long slow hushing breaths to set the pattern of full release leading to full reception.

8. After sufficient time and practice, you will have retrained your breathing to a fuller, more feeling, and more life-enhancing pattern. You will mostly breathe in and out through your nose, in accordance with the body's design. You can always do a few hushing breaths whenever you feel yourself contracting.