Open expansive breathing and your physical and emotional well being are very much intertwined. Exapansive breathing = Life… Expansive breathing = An oxygen rich blood supply… Expansive breathing = Movement… Expansive breathing = Calmness… Expansive breathing = Freedom.
Most everyone has a tendency to restrict their breathing when they are frightened, anxious, or feeling overwhelmed. It is not “natural” to restrict one’s breathing at such times, but for most of us it is a default habit nonetheless.
The very essence of a habit is that we can perform an action without needing to pay careful attention to what we are doing. Soon we can perform certain habits without seeming to think at all. For many of us, restricting our breathing has become a habit that we do so “well” that we have come to not even notice when and how we do it.
This Practice is meant to reawaken you to the process of breathing, and help you to reverse debilitating breathing habits, so that you can once again, “Breath with Grace and Power.”
Metaphorical explanation of the process involved: Sit up straight, without leaning against the back of your chair. Imagine that your torso is a strong yet supple cylinder that is able to transmit fluid and oxygen through it walls. Your torso-cylinder is hanging from a fairly thick string that is attached to a strong branch of a big tree, and this string cradles your head and neck, so that your throat and sinuses are open and soft. As your head, neck, and torso hang from the branch, your entire upper body rocks back and forth ever so much, as you are moved by a strong yet calming breeze.
The bottom of your cylinder is your pelvic floor which is situated in your pelvic cavity. The top of your cylinder is your palate, sinuses, nose and mouth.
In this practice, air enters your cylinder through your nose and sinuses, and air exits your cylinder through your mouth.
As you inhale, think of each molecule of air as being like a bubble that floats down to your pelvic floor, with each bubble resting on the bubbles around it. You can think of an image of a cylindrical jar filled with water bubbles. When the jar is “just full” you pause for a relaxing moment or two, and then the molecular bubbles start to exit your cylinder through your mouth.
The bubbles near the top of the cylinder of course are the ones that exit first. The bubbles resting on your pelvic floor are the bubbles that exit last. When your cylinder is “just empty” you pause for a relaxing moment or two, and then your inhale begins once again. Inhaling through your nose and sinuses, exhaling through your throat and mouth.
- Your inhalation enters your body through your nose and sinuses, and goes all the way down to your pelvic floor. Remain relaxed while practicing this. Do what you can, and no more or less.
- When your cylinder is just full, you pause for a relaxing moment or two and then: Your exhalation leaves your body via your throat and mouth.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose making a “Suuu” sound which emanates from the area of your sinuses. What is important here is that you make a slow and constant inhalation, and that the inhalation has some sound to it.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth making a “Haaa” sound which emanates from your throat, as the air lightly bounces off of your palate. The sound you make is a throaty sound.
- While being certain to remain relaxed, build up to a cycle of inhaling for about twenty seconds and exhaling for about twenty seconds.
Perform Breathing With Grace and Power, for a minimum of five minutes. Better to do it for ten minutes if you have the time.
This Practice is very simple, AND profound. You will discover yourself in the process and you will reawaken yourself to the process of breathing, and reverse degenerative breathing habits. Over time, you will once again, “Breath with Grace and Power.”
As a supplement to the above practice, you may also find this video of interest from our Video Exercises Inspired by Japanese Culture page.