The way you breathe is the way you live. Breathing is absolutely essential to life, but it’s often overlooked as a necessity for good health. Full, free breathing is one of the most powerful keys to enhancing physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
Breathing effortlessly, a baby lives fully and freely in the now, in the expansiveness of the moment. There is no past to remember, no future to plan for or worry about. Each breath is a process of receiving from the universe and giving back to it. With each inhale, she receives and takes life in. With each exhale, she lets go and gives back. She is in touch with and part of the essential rhythm of life. “Full, free breathing is one of the most powerful keys to enhancing physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.” The baby doesn’t know or do this consciously, but simply experiences an inherent peace, joy, and connectedness with all things. Of course, a baby will also experience needs and be heavily influenced by the environment that she is in. She will have emotional outbursts or cries for attention, but what is important to notice is how easily a baby will settle back into a relaxed state of calm and peace. Much like animals, children have a great capacity for resilience. In one moment they may be screaming and then after a brief reassuring glance or embrace, settle back into a deep peace and wellbeing.
Over time, the child absorbs and accumulates the tensions and stresses of their family and learns behaviors from their environment. As we each experience the joys, challenges, and traumas of life, we begin to anticipate and react from our past experiences of pleasure and pain. Unfortunately, we lose the freedom and expansiveness that were natural at birth. We become afraid of disapproval, punishment, or abandonment. We experience unpleasant feelings that we don’t know how to handle.
As a result, we begin to contract more often or even shut down. We learn to “control” ourselves, to “be good,” to receive positive attention. We sacrifice our desires for the approval of others. To control ourselves in this way, we unconsciously tighten our muscles and restrict our breathing. We discover that the less we breathe, the less we feel—and the easier it is to get through the challenges and difficulties of modern life. Over time, this process develops habitual unconscious reactions that lock up the body and prevent the full expression of both pleasure and pain. The essential flow of life force energy becomes kinked like a hose and every functioning system in the body will eventually degrade faster. As adults, many people tend to breathe small and shallow, mostly in the chest, with little visible movement. To make matters worse, most people contract and literally stop breathing for short periods during stressful or mentally focused situations. These periods of contraction and breath holding create a low-grade suffocation in the body. Suffocation leads to suffering. The lack of oxygen and increased tension hinders the flow of blood, nutrients, and vital energy.
When we constrict or stop our breath, we lose touch with what is happening in the present moment—with how magical, pleasurable, and wonderful it is just to be alive. Instead, we focus too much in the head and get stuck in the past and the future. Our minds race with thoughts—worrying, figuring out, and planning. We lose the freedom, joy, and expansiveness that are natural when we are relaxed in our breath and connected to our body awareness. Miraculously, by directing your consciousness back to your breathing and learning to work with it, you can regain what has been lost. You can learn to let go of patterns of worry and tension, which hold you back, and return to natural, oceanic, full-body breathing. Like a baby, you can experience the full feeling, possibility, and connection of each moment. The Art of Conscious Breathing As you become aware of your breath and work with it consciously, you make a direct link to your autonomic nervous system, gaining access to a part of yourself that usually functions outside of conscious awareness. It is no accident that many meditation techniques are based on breathing. As our breathing gets fuller and deeper, we can feel ourselves softening, opening, getting more spacious inside. The breath takes us into our very core. There is a reason that in many languages and many sacred texts, the word for breath also means soul or spirit: psyche in Greek, anima in Latin, ruach in Hebrew and the “ha” in aloha means the sacred breath of life within us all, or the spirit of the Creator that breathes life into all living beings and joins us all as one. As you lengthen and deepen the breath in and out, you can feel a connection between the inside and the outside. Through our breathing, it is possible to feel connected with all living beings. When I first experienced full-body breathing myself, I discovered what true relaxation feels like and a genuine sense of oneness. Before I became a breathing enthusiast, I had little awareness of how much tension there was in my body. When I tried to take a full deep breath, it was actually difficult to allow my belly and solar plexus to relax and expand. I was surprised by this. With so many years of swimming, mountain biking, surfing, and playing sports, I had not learned how to breathe properly. No wonder I was easily irritable, anxious, and often nervous. At age 18, it felt like my conscious life began. All my social and academic struggles radically transformed with the introduction of breathing through my first yoga teachers. Within a few months, I went from being a struggling frustrated student to a focused and confident learner.
Breathing is regenerative and restorative. It can cleanse us of toxins that have built up in the body and the mind. It can help rid us of worries and tensions and bring us back to our true nature of relaxed openness and connection. This most basic and essential of all our activities can also be the most transformative. Many times I have felt tired and unmotivated, with a lot to accomplish; yet, with only a few minutes of breathing, I can feel refreshed and energized.
Beyond the baseline of natural breathing, there is also an art to cultivating your breath in more powerful ways. The teachings of yoga, martial arts and many other cultural and spiritual systems have deep roots in breath cultivation. According to many of these ancient teachings, breathing generates electromagnetic energy, or life force energy—commonly called Prana, Qi or Mana—which can heal your body and deepen your spiritual practices.
Chronic stress responses cause an overactive mind, poor health, and a disconnection from the natural cycles and interconnectedness with all of life. When you free up your breathing, you become brighter, more healthy and resilient. Every experience in life can become more harmonious and meaningful when you are in tune with the power and nourishment of consciously breathing. From the perspective of the world’s great spiritual traditions, our breath not only brings needed oxygen and other gases to the physical body, but it is a major way that we release accumulated stress, emotional tension, and toxins. When we are conscious and intentional with our breathing, the finer energies (Prana, Qi, or Mana) needed to help nourish our bodies will invigorate and activate the energy flow within our subtle and energetic bodies. With enough accumulation of energy and meditative absorption, new frontiers of awareness light up and the finer spiritual dimensions of interconnection emerge. Whatever we may believe about our soul and spirit, our breath, and how we breathe, is intimately connected with all aspects of our being. Breathing Exercise: The Complete Breath The first phase in healthy breathing is to become conscious of how we actually breathe. Noticing whether we are relaxed and allowing the breath to naturally deepen into the lower belly or if the breath is shallow and primarily in the upper chest area. The diaphragm, which is located near the solar plexus, is a vital gateway of the breath. In a complete and healthy breath, the diaphragm easefully expands downward, along with the lower lobes of the lungs as if being drawn by the earth into your pelvis when you inhale. For this to easily happen, your body and emotional state need to be relaxed and feel safe. If you have a lot of tension or wound-up emotional stress, your diaphragm will be tight, as if locked in place. Start by sitting with a straight spine. Allow each breath to gently deepen into your belly and roll up from the inside of your spine, creating a bit of lift and traction with each inhale as the air fills the upper lungs. On the exhale, let your body deflate and round forward a little as the air empties out of you, with a gentle squeezing of the abdomen at the end of the exhale. Repeat this wave-like breathing for a few minutes. Notice how easeful and natural it is to feel the breath roll through you from your pelvis up to your neck.
Expand Your Breath Capacity The second phase is to begin to exaggerate and expand your breath capacity. Here you want to focus on using each inhale to stretch deeper into your pelvis and up fully into your ribs. Exaggerating your breathing releases structural tension and emotional blockages in the body. It also makes more space in your physical body, which allows your natural unconscious breathing to be more full and relaxed. Much like yoga postures, the breath can be used to stretch the body from the inside out. Many yogis say that Pranayama (yogic breathing practices) are the origin of the yoga postures and the very core of a true yoga practice. Put one hand on your lower belly and one hand on your upper chest. Fill the lower hand with a large expanding breath and then continue expanding up into your upper hand, flaring the ribs out and stretching open in your entire chest area. Always focus on feeling the breath move not only in the front but also in the back of your body. Exaggerated breathing is a way of stretching yourself open from the inside out. This type of breathing can also be called structural breathing, as it restructures your posture by making more space throughout your torso, with the complete use of your lung capacity. This practice will also massage your organs and release any congestion throughout your intestines and liver. Breathe to Purify and Cleanse The third phase is to purify and cleanse the body with the exhale. When stretching and opening the body with large deep breaths, you allow for areas of congestion to be discharged through the blood and lungs. The lungs are a major organ of elimination, and the most significant way that we alkalize our bodies is through our breathing. In this phase, you focus on opening your mouth and emptying out your lungs on the exhale, encouraging the release of stagnant air, particulate, and carbon dioxide. Open your jaw wide and allow for a large volume of air to move through your trachea. You can also try adding a “HA” sound as a way to vibrate and increase the opening of your heart and clearing of stagnant energy.
The cleansing breath is a powerful practice to release stress and emotional build up. Whenever we have an emotional release, it comes out in some way through the mouth. Whether it be crying, laughing or anger, the mouth and breath play a major role in the experience. Focusing on clearing your lungs with a large yawn-like exhale will refresh and clear your body physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The next phase is to turn your attention inward with each breath and feel deeply into your body. The life force energy is directed by where your attention goes. Turning your attention inward and lighting up your internal feeling perception is a powerful way to heal your body and awaken spiritual awareness. As you feel and perceive your heart beating and the circulation throughout your body, you begin to accumulate the life force energy. Here is where the foundation of meditation is built. Your breath awakens inner perception, which builds concentration and energy, which leads to the remembrance and experience of profound spiritual connection. With consistency of these simple breathing practices, there will be a gradual increase in your energy, clarity, and peace of mind. As the body receives more oxygen and life force energy, it will self-regulate and regenerate. Then you will begin to store up this vital energy; you might notice an increased sex drive and even feel more emotional. Keep building this energy and welcome more flow into your life. Let your breathing open you up all the way and move you through any of the challenges you face. Whenever you have a few moments to pause or wait for someone, use it as an opportunity to focus on your breath. If you experience doubt, reaction or fear, you always have your breath to guide you into and through what you feel. No matter how old you are or feel, how you breathe will lead the way you live. Breathe more, love more, laugh more!
The great amazing work of Hawaiian based genius
He has been a student of qigong and yoga for the past 18 years, during which he has studied with numerous teachers, mentors, and spiritual guides. Shems is committed to being a catalyst for transformation and dedicates his work to helping individuals awaken to their powerful innate abilities to be the same. Visit his website at: shemsheartwell.com
For more great cross reference sources and resources for your own practice.
More information on #holotropic breath which is my offering in tantra for trauma
**Psychonaught Tantra journey.
Similar but a more straight nagual rhythmic Milder breath for that out of body release.
best way to learn dantian meditation was to sit back in a comfortable chair and simply feel the breaths coming and going from the body. Dantian breathing 丹田呼吸 (dan tian hu xi) The Chinese word “Dantian” literally means “cinnabar field”. Cinnabar refers to mercury sulfide (朱砂 zhu sha) a toxic metal that early Daoists used to make medicine. “Dantian” is usually roughly translated as “elixir field” (energy field) since the Chinese name means that it is a valuable energy center, a place where something valuable and medicinal can be cultivated. Although there are considered to be three major Dantian in the body. The Dantian we are talking about for Dantian breathing is the lower Dantian, a major energy center found slightly under and behind the navel. Dantian breathing describes when the lower back is incorporated into deep breathing breathing practice. For this type of breathing, the mind focuses on the Dantian and the chest stays relaxed, while the abdomen and lower back expand on the exhale, and contract on the exhale. There is a very important acupuncture point on the lower spine called the “Gate of Life” (命门 ming men) which can be stimulated by Dantian breathing, as can the kidneys. Daoist medicine tells us that when the kidneys are stimulated, your entire body's vitality and energy level will improve.
Embryonic breathing is sometimes called “stopping the breath” (闭气). But it is important to differentiate that “stopping the breath” actually does not mean the same thing as “holding the breath”. There are several Daoist practices that involve holding the breath to increase lung capacity, but Embryonic breathing is actually a bit different. Embryonic breathing means that your breath feels like an effortless, internal movement. Your breathing becomes so natural you are not aware that you are the one breathing, like a new-formed child in the womb. When I practice this type of breathing, I find that my spirit and breathing become aligned, I become less aware of myself sitting there. I become present in the moment, and am only aware of the breath. This is a very useful type of breathing for meditation. Focusing the mind too sharply on your breathing can prevent the naturalness of breath needed for Embryonic breathing, so instead of diligently practicing this technique, I find it more useful to let it happen naturally. If you use one hand to hold a feather under your nose while practicing this type of breathing, it will not move, your breathing is so calm and subtle. Embryonic breathing is also called nei hu xi (内呼吸 meaning 'internal breathing').
breathing'). Qi and the martial arts Soldiers in China, singers, and external martial artists often practice chest breathing. This involves breathing practices that expand and contract the chest and ribs, and develops the strength of the upper lungs. The practice of yelling or exhaling qi through the mouth when practicing martial arts also practices the qi of the lungs. However, these types of breathing are not a part of typical Daoist or internal martial art practice. The Daoist conception of the body tells us that the qi (气) or “intrinsic energy” in the body naturally moves upward. We believe that practicing chest breathing encourages this tendency. When the qi in the body is raised, it is best to do the jumps and flips that are common in the external arts. However, if the qi in the body is high, a person will also feel unsettled, like a tiger in a cage, they will have a bad temper. In the internal arts the qi of the chest is compared to fire and a tiger. The qi of the stomach is compared to water, or a dragon. Our traditional Daoist practices involve grounding the qi low within the body instead of raising it. When the energy of the chest and the energy of the belly are able to mix, this is called 'mixing fire and water'. As everyone knows, when fire and water are mixed, they create steam. This steam (qi) creates more energy for the body. This type of metaphor is common in the Daoist internal arts practices, where the body is compared to a crucible (stove for making medicine) where fire and water create steam (more qi for the body). The role of the mouth in the internal arts related both to Confucian and Daoist theory. Confucian thought teaches that the mouth is the source of many problems. We have a traditional saying (祸从口出，病从口入) meaning that “trouble exits from the mouth, and sickness enters.” This refers to the problems that saying the wrong thing, or eating and drinking unhealthy things can cause. However, the mouth is also necessary for preserving life. Ideally, it should be used for nourishing qi. This means when we eat and drink, we should do so in a way that brings energy to the body. Daoism teaches that talking too much can exhaust the body's energy and vitality. This is why all religions have a practice where people take vows of silence. When I first leaned these techniques, I tried them out by walking around the outside walls of the temple with my mouth wide open. I found that I got tired a lot easier. This is something you can try out for yourself. Preventing excess energy from exiting the mouth spans the Daoist meditation and martial practices. For this reason, I was taught that it is bad to expel breath through the mouth while practicing. The reason for this is because the energy and breath in the body should be conserved. If too much qi is exiting from the mouth, it will weaken your punches, and you will tire more quickly. Also, if you are making loud noises while practicing, it is easy to become self-conscious about what noises you are making, and how loud they are. How many people have found themselves embarrassed because they are making more noise than the people around them. When this happens, your mind is drawn away from where it should be. It is said that in the internal martial arts, we use qi when we practice. It is important to remember that qi does not just mean 'breath'. Rather qi refers to the material energy of the universe. It is the air we breathe, and the food we eat. It is also given to us from our parents before birth, and taken in during our interactions with people. Qi refers to anything intangible but perceptible, things you can feel easier than see. However, while it is easy to think of Qi as an energetic substance, it is also correct to think of it as a process. In Chinese medicine, Qi is most commonly defined not by what it is, but by what it does. This is similar to the conception of energy in modern physics, where matter is describes as having an interconnected physical and energetic qualities. Qi is that which warms, raises, and harmonizes, as well as the process by which things are warmed, raised up, and harmonized. This material energy works in many ways, creating movement, and nourishing the body. Nourishing your body's qi can be done by practicing breathing techniques and meditation, eating and drinking nutritious foods, keeping your interpersonal relationships healthy, and working to create a clean environment. When a martial artist uses qi it also refers to a process. For me, this process begins by keeping the breath in the body low, and emitting force through the entire body. When I practice, I breathe deeply into the abdomen, and fill the dantian. When I emit force (发力 fa li), I am breathing out from the dantian, through the nose (which lets air out slower than the mouth, hence avoiding letting out too much qi). While the mouth exists mainly for the intake of nutrients, the nose was designed to be the main organ of respiration. The dantian is also kept full on the exhale, and my mind (忆 yi) is focused on using the qi and strength from my lower body and waist. In this way, whole body movements are used. This means using the legs, dantian, and waist area to emit force, and keeping the mind focused on where the force is going. The mind, breathing, and body are all in harmony. When the body and mind are synchronized, the qi of the body will harmonize with your movements naturally. Daoist monk Zhou, Xuan-Yun (Mysterious Cloud), grew up in a temple on Wudang Mountain, China where he was a student and later an instructor of Taiji and Kung Fu. He belongs to the Orthodox Unity sect of Daoism, and is trained in ritual arts, chanting, divination, and internal alchemy. He is formally recognized as a disciple of Li Guang Fu 李光富 Head Daoist monk on Wudang Mountain (武当山道教协会会长), and he is dedicated to teaching the traditional arts in classes around the world.
Two mini breath ones by Misha amazing teacher history
Buddha’s Breath: When you inhale, extend your abdomen, filling it with air. When you exhale, contract your abdomen, expelling the air from the bottom of your lungs first and then pushing it up and out until your abdomen and chest are deflated. You may want to practice inhaling for a slow count of eight and exhaling for a count of sixteen. As you breathe in and out, imagine inviting your qi energy to flow through the Channels. Use your mind to invite the qi to flow; you want to guide the flow, not tug at it or push it.
Daoists’s Breath: The pattern is the opposite of above. When you breathe in, you contract your abdominal muscles. When you exhale, you relax the torso and lungs. – Misha Ruth Cohen, Doctor of Oriental Medicine