From the moment of our birth until our final transition, we breathe, always and everywhere. Indeed, breath defines our life and supports body, mind and spirit. Besides being central to life, ever-present, and connected to the spirit, breathing involves an easily noticeable complex of physical sensations. Thus, the practice of breath awareness was widely embraced by our ancestors in the spiritual pursuit. The Buddha was engaged in breath awareness as his primary practice at the time of his enlightenment. The Christian Desert Fathers, Hindu Yogis, and Islamic Sufis employed variations of breath awareness.
Most people are shallow or chest breathers drawing minimal air into the lungs, usually by drawing air into the chest using the intercostal muscles rather than throughout the lungs via the diaphragm and are unaware of the condition. You did not start out this way; in fact, shallow or chest breathing is a learned behavior. Every baby instinctively breathes from the abdomen. You can see this watching small children and babies as they sleep. This cycle of poor breathing, can cause tension and low energy, which makes raising your vibration difficult. When you breathe shallowly, the air only enters your upper chest and very little enters your lower chest. This causes a lack of oxygen to your blood vessels, which can create strain on your heart and lungs, and releases stress hormones.
Learning to breathe deeply will increase your oxygen supply, which, in turn, will help to decrease stress and anxiety levels. According to studies, you can inhale and exhale up to seven times as much air during a three-part breath than in a shallow, chest-based breath. This deep breathing is the foundation for other yogic exercises, such as meditation and cleansing and is known as pranic breathing (Life Force).
Proper breathing is the very essence of life. It is how our vibration works and why it happens. It is also the most important life function we perform. Proper deep breathing is a natural way to increase your energy level and the electromagnetic flow into your body.The key is to become mindful of the breathing process: to practice every day until it becomes automatic for you.
The steps are straightforward, but like everything new, be patient with yourself. You can close your eyes, or, keep them open through this exercise, whichever is more comfortable for you. If you're doing pranic breathing during meditation, you will probably close your eyes. Here is the method to do it:
- Sit on the edge of a chair, sofa, or bed, whichever you choose.
- Keep your back straight and away from the back of the chair or sofa.
- Place both thumbs on your navel and spread your hands across your lower belly. This gets you used to how you feel when you expand your diaphragm.
- Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind the hard palate, the hard ridge behind your top row of teeth. Keep it there while breathing. This connects two major meridians, or energy channels, enabling the flow of prana. One meridian runs down the front of the body from the palate to the perineum. This is the “conception” or “main” meridian. The other runs from the perineum up the spine, over the back of the head, down the forehead, and ends at the top of the palate. This is the “governor” meridian.
- Exhale through your mouth until your lungs are empty, but do not strain. Your stomach should move in, but try to keep your spine straight.
- Begin breathing in slowly through your nose.
- Feel your lungs filling up in three segments: first the abdomen, then the ribcage, and finally, your chest.
- Your chest should not move as you breathe in, only your abdomen.
- As your lungs reach capacity, pause for a moment. Then exhale smoothly and gently through your nose.
- This completes one cycle of pranic breathing.
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