Training Program With Simple Breathing Techniques to Help You Reduce Stress and Anxiety, Releave Chronic Pain, Enhance Concentration, and Balance Your Emotions for a Healthier and Fitter You for Winning in Life
By Steve Lumen
The Breathing Guide: Powerful Breathing Techniques to Help You Naturally Eliminate Anxiety, Chronic Pain, and Depression, for a Healthier and Fitter You
Copyright © 2015 by Steve Lumen
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Most known breathing methods are frequently connected to the medical, spiritual and religious traditions of India and China. Many of the ancients developed lifestyles and physical exercises based on the patterns of breathing and respiratory cycles.
In the Chinese language, qi refers to a large family of practices for enhancing energy and health through breathing and special motions. Pranayama practices of Yoga also incorporate specialized breathing patterns, special postures and motions that are thought to promote health and spiritual growth.
The methods of Yoga and Qi Gong gradually cultivate an awareness of breathing by means of an extended series of different postures. These methods often require extraordinary attention to inner states and extreme physiological control. However, everything great is simple. You do not need to do anything special that deviates from your daily life. You already have what you need.
Techniques that are mentioned in this book can easily be learned and remembered, so you can effectively put them to use in your everyday life.
“[To master our breath is to be in control of our bodies and minds.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh]
Each of us has a unique personality with our own character-structure, yet we are constructed more of less on the same anatomical and physiological basis. It was well-known throughout history that one of the most important aspects of mental and physical health and well-being is the respiratory process. If we control our breathing, we control our body, our mind, and our spirit.
The energy known as qi in Chinese culture (chi or chi’i), and as ki in the Japanese language, sustains and vitalizes life. It can also be translated as “life force”, or even “breath”, or “air”. Oxygen is one of the most important factors for maintaining a healthy body. It is essential for all human function. The average individual can survive 40 days without food, four days without water and 4 minutes without oxygen.
All human functions, energy and performance are based on appropriate tissue oxygenation. The average human being breathes between 12 – 18 breaths a minute. When we breathe, we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. This process is known as respiration – a continuous exchange of these two gases between us and our environment.
With poor breathing we create a state of constant stress and low energy. This way we reduce both our physiological and our energetic potential. Increasing energy begins with abdominal breathing, or with making the breathing more efficient. With effective methods of breathing we can increase our personal supply of energy.
Learning to breath with your abdomen is one of the first things you should learn. It will rewire your nervous system, replenish your organs, and your body with energy. When you think of your breath, it is usually when you are running out of it.
Why would you need someone to teach you how to breathe? Your body knows how to breathe quite well. You get enough oxygen into your blood to support your physiological requirements and power your organs and muscles. You know how to inhale and exhale – you can breathe well enough to live. What could you possibly be missing; after all, breathing is instinctive, right?
The truth is most people do breathe inefficiently and improperly. In fact, learning to breathe properly is the first and easiest step you can take toward increasing your overall energy level. Most people breathe high (chest breathing), using the muscles of the chest and shoulders to provide most of the power used to breathe. This means they breathe not by moving their abdomen out and in but by moving their chest and ribs out and in and their collarbones up and down. Over time, your diaphragm gets tense and abdominal muscles constricted, and you lose the ability to breathe deeply and naturally.
Chest breathing is not the most efficient way to breathe. Compared to deep breathing, high or “shallow” breathing produces increased heart and breathing rates. You tense your neck and shoulder muscles, and this can activate your body’s stress response. This is one of the reasons why shallow breathers are more prone to experience anxiety and stress related conditions like headaches and hypertension. With a little training you can re-learn deep breathing and transform your health and well-being.
Breathing improperly is not learned behavior. We do all start out as experts. Your body knows how to breathe quite well. After all, breathing is instinctive. Most people would be surprised if you told them they were not breathing properly. Well, yes, breathing is performed unconsciously.
Every baby breathes instinctively, taking slow and deep breaths from the abdomen (belly), which you can see if you watch small children and babies when they are asleep. That’s how we are meant to breathe. Unfortunately, most of us long ago stopped breathing the way we did when we were babies. As we get older, tension and the effects of stress on the body inhibit our natural breathing process.
You usually disrupt your breathing cycle in response to any stressful factor when something unexpected happens (with your tense mental or physical reaction) or due to certain psychological habits, such as anxiety. We are prone to holding negative emotions such as fear, stress, and traumatic memories. This results as tension in the musculature of our bodies.
The muscles throughout the torso are one of the main places we store that tension. This includes the diaphragm – oval muscles between and supporting the ribcage – and the smooth muscle of the lung tissue itself. Tightness in any of these areas makes it difficult to draw a full breath.
Stress takes a long-term toll on your breathing. Your breath becomes shallow and short. You remember how it was for you as a child when you were afraid or sent to bed without a dinner. When you have gone to bed angry, sad or tense, you hold your breath. We also have tension throughout the chest and torso because we do not stretch and exercise properly.
Adults also can lose the capacity for deep core breathing from a traumatic emotional experience, or physical pain. When we are in pain, we want as little movement as possible. This again restricts breathing. In addition, modern fashion teaches us to “suck in our tummies” and have flat abdominal muscles. This is a mistaken attitude.
This type of posture – the “statue,” can also contribute to shallow breathing. The abdominal area contains the most vital organs, and we must not constrict it too heavily. If you tense your stomach all the time, you create lower back tension. The end result is stiffness and pain. For example, asthma can develop as a result of such constriction.
Deep breathing goes by many names. You may have heard of diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, core breathing, center breathing, belly breathing, natural breathing, yogic or pranic breathing, or proper breathing.
All those different designations refer to breathing with your lower abdomen. You can call it whatever you would like to call it but slower, deeper respiration is the fundamental building block for both physical relaxation and energy enhancement.
When practiced skillfully, intentional breathing has physical, energetic and mental benefits. These range from basic aerobic and aerobic exercises designed to increase endurance, stamina, strength and power, to the static postures of yoga that increase flexibility, or the flowing, dance like movements of tai chi chuan that enhance mind-body integration.
Moving or positioning the body stimulates energy and breaks energetic blockages within the body that can lead to musculoskeletal tension, stress and even physical ailments in your body. Certain postures squeeze, stimulate, twist, and exercise the endocrine glands and internal organs, which, in turn, clean the glands and organs.
Many forms of breathing exercise the muscles of the torso, and especially the diaphragm, to help release negative emotional tension often held there. It is this physical movement of the breathing – moving the diaphragm up and down through its full range of motion – together with the breathing itself, that helps relax the mind and body, as well as free up the energy frequently blocked there.
Your abdominal region is especially important. In psychosomatic medicine this area is also known as the “middle-man” of the body. This belly-mind is often opposed to the rational activities of the head-mind. It is the place of the feelings and instincts, and all the dynamic forces inherited from the past that we attribute to the subconscious.
When you breathe with your lower abdomen, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and you will notice how your lower belly rises. The ability to breathe deeply is not limited to a selected few. This skill is inborn but often lies asleep.
Reawakening it allows you to activate one of our body’s strongest self-healing mechanisms. There are many benefits you can experience if you start breathing with your abdomen. Among the physiological benefits are better cardiovascular functioning, diminished musculoskeletal tension (physical relaxation), an increase in lung capacity, improved endurance, more efficient oxygen exchange, mental relaxation, and anxiety reduction.
The breathing exercises are especially recommended for people with insomnia, mental tension, or depression, and it is also said to aid people with a heart disease. The benefits are also recognized and highly praised by physicians, therapists and even by psychologists and psychiatrists.
There are different causes that affect the areas of physical blockage. You may have some areas of restriction in your body – bad posture, physical tension, pain, fatigue, or injury –that block the natural flow of your energy and your breath. These disruptions may be subconscious reactions to a sudden movement or sound, or an intense emotion. Even a simple action can trigger breath disruption. For example, a sudden noise behind you may lead to tension and a breathing blockage, even if no real threat exists. You hold your breath unconsciously or you breathe irregularly.
If your breathing is high, rapid, or shallow, you reduce the amount of oxygen you draw into your lungs. This self-manufactured oxygen shortage triggers the fight-or-flight reflex – a physiological, biochemical and energetic change that happen in your body, which releases a flood of hormones. The release of adrenaline and cortisol prepares you to physically defend yourself or run away. The result is muscle tension and anxiety, which also decreases your energy.
Fight-or-flight prepares your body to defend itself against a perceived assault or danger. You feel impulses of energy boost. However, this does not feel relaxing; it is a high-tension spike of nervous energy that is followed by an energy crash. That is also the reason why you feel so exhausted after going through an emotionally stressful ordeal. Your body has had a surge of energy that cannot be sustained.
Thus a cycle of shallow breathing, tension, and low energy is established. Improper breathing creates tension. This leads to the body releasing stress hormones. When we are tense, either when we hold our breath or when we breathe more shallowly or irregularly, this leads to greater tension. The effect of this is that more stress hormones are released into the bloodstream, and, in time, an establishment of the flight-or-fight reflex as our normal condition.
Your physical posture plays an important role in breathing. We have been conditioned to stand as little soldiers: “chest out and stomach in”. As you tighten the abdominal muscles, you restrict free flowing breathing. Deep breathing is one of many techniques to help you relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and achieve deep relaxation.
Our respiration cycles are governed by the autonomic nervous system. When your body is under stress you usually take short and shallow breaths. This is known as “shallow breathing” because these breaths only penetrate into the upper portion of the chest and lungs. This reduces your body’s ability to effectively oxygenate.
When this continues for an extended period of time it sets up the pathological processes described earlier. For example, the consequences of this are a number of disorders including cancer, heart diseases and malignant tumors. It has been suggested that, at rest, we should consume 6 breaths in a minute to supply our needs. A shallow breathing habit is robbing us of precious energy, producing toxic waste products and promoting disease in our bodies.
Heart disease, depression, anxiety, and chronic pain patients have an intimate relationship with persistent chest breathing behaviors. Several studies have suggested that maintenance of posture and breathing habits to be the most important factor in health and energy promotion.
Deep or abdominal breathing is the proper method of respiration. Taking deep, diaphragmatic breaths is necessary to get the oxygen rich air deep into the base of the lungs where three times as many blood vessels are available for respiratory exchange, compared to the upper lung region.
When we are taking deep breaths, our diaphragm is able to pull the heart down and massage it with each breath. This process optimizes the body’s natural ability to pump fluid and nutrients into the heart and remove the wastes. In the absence of deep breathing, the body is unable to deliver enough nutrients and eliminate wastes from the heart.
A long-term study made by Dr. Schunemann showed that lung function predicts mortality rates, because the lung is a primary defense organism against environmental toxins. Dr. Wendell Hendricks, (two-time Nobel Laureate, Winner of the Nobel Prize for Cancer Research) said, “Cancer is a condition within the body where the oxidation has become so depleted that the body cells have degenerated beyond physiological control.
The same can be said for allergies. Lowered oxidation process within the body is causing the affected individual to be sensitive to external substances entering the body. When the oxidation mechanism is restored to its original high state of efficiency can the sensitivity be eliminated.”
Find this out and try a simple test: Put your palms against your lower abdomen and blow out all the air and then take a big breath. If your abdomen expands when you inhale and air seems to flow in deeply to the pit of your stomach, you’re on the right track. Shallow breathers are more likely to take a breath and pull in their stomach.
This pushes the diaphragm up, leaving the air nowhere to go, and this affects the shoulders that go up to make room. This makes tension in your body. To fill the lungs more deeply, you have to lower the diaphragm muscle by expanding the abdomen.
When you do this, the lungs can elongate and draw in air. You allow your abdomen to expand comfortably all around its circumference — back, sides and front. Proper deep breathing is really the foundation for all things — it’s the foundation of health.
Breathing is the major physiological process of the body. It is the bridge between body and psyche. We all have days when we experience mental block, lack of sleep, poor conditioning of unused muscle groups, or just plain laziness or fatigue.
Correct breathing strengthens the body and eliminates pathogens and physical imbalances of all kinds. It connects the respiratory system to the body’s other six major systems: circulatory, nervous, endocrine, muscular-skeletal, digestive, and genital-urinary.
Your breath does not stop at your lungs. Slow, rhythmic deep breathing over time provides important long-term health benefits; it massages the internal organs and allows more oxygen to flow through your body, relaxes the muscles, and slows the heartbeat – this can lower or stabilize blood pressure.
Researches show that vital capacity is a strong predictor of cardiovascular health and longevity. You will increase lung capacity and improve your endurance because of more efficient oxygen exchange. Among other physiological benefits there is anxiety reduction, and physical and mental relaxation because of diminished musculoskeletal tension.
You will not often think about your lymph nodes unless you hear about someone with cancer. Your cells need oxygen to survive moment to moment. Breathing serves as the pump for the lymphatic system (we have twice as much lymphatic fluid as blood in our bodies), just as the heart serves the circulatory system.
Our cells swim in a sea of lymphatic fluid that carries away dead white blood cells, unused plasma protein, and toxins once the cells have absorbed what they need. Lymph vessels form a drainage system throughout the body. Blood flow carries nutrients and oxygen into the cells and a healthy lymphatic system carries away destructive toxins.
The lymph fluid then drains into the circulatory system through two tubes at the base of your neck and becomes part of the blood and plasma that pass through the kidneys and liver. However, your lymph system does not have a built-in pump like your circulatory system. It relies on breathing and on the movement of your body to move all that waste fluid around.
The consequence of a sluggish lymphatic system is that you cannot detoxify properly. If you are not breathing deeply or moving regularly, there is a high possibility that your lymph fluid is not flowing as well as it could. This can lead to health concerns over time including high blood pressure, fatigue, inflammation, and weight gain.
You can improve your lymph system cleansing by learning to practice deep breathing. The expansion and contraction of the diaphragm stimulates your lymphatic system and massages your internal organs, helping the body to remove toxins and leaving more room in the cells for an optimal exchange of oxygen.
When we experience a stressful situation we hold our breath – on a physiological level our blood vessels constrict, circulation is impaired and our cells are deprived of oxygen and food. When a stress reaction takes place at a high intensity or when it happens consistently it can lead to injuries and disease.
Chronic stress depletes the body of nutrients and destabilizes brain and endocrine chemistry. Muscle tension and pain, depression, insulin sensitivity insomnia, and adrenal fatigue are among the conditions which are all related to an overworked sympathetic nervous system. It is stimulated in times of anxiety and stress. This controls your fight-or-flight response, including high releases in cortisol and adrenaline that are damaging if they persist too long.
Anxiety sufferers tend to breathe rapidly using their upper chest. This causes over breathing. Anxious people are more sensitive to changes of carbon dioxide to oxygen ratios in the bloodstream. The end result is more anxiety, which is caused by hyperventilating or simply breathing too fast – too much oxygen is stored-up in the blood. The result may be feelings of breathlessness, anxiety, or agitation.
Abdominal breathing techniques are extremely effective in handling stress-related disorders, like depression or anxiety. These techniques are an excellent alternative, or even a suitable substitute, to conventional medical treatment in treating myriad psychological disorders, and eating disorders like obesity.
Frequently negative emotions like anger and anxiety will knock you out of sync. If you also eat unhealthy, this makes the physical body more prone to physical and emotional ailments. When you are frightened or stressed, you tend to hold your breath or take rapid, shallow breaths. The heart pounds and muscles clench as the adrenaline kicks in and your breathing becomes shallow and irregular. The muscles of the torso and diaphragm become tense.
Slow, rhythmic breathing is the fastest way to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system – which works in the opposite way to the sympathetic nervous system. The body understands that it is not in a life-threatening situation, and responds to this stimulus by relaxing. When you breathe with your abdomen this slows your cardiovascular system, the lungs expand, and it relaxes the muscles of the torso and restores flexibility to the diaphragm.
Proper diaphragmatic movement pumps the fluid around the spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid), which results in an increase in brain metabolism and the resulting feelings of physical and mental well-being and enhanced mental alertness. When you calm your breathing, you calm your mind. That is the physiological explanation as to why the result is a calming effect, and the reason why you experience a buildup of energy.
We are challenged with stressful factors from all sides in our daily lives. Every stress, whether psychological or physical, inhibits or interferes with breathing in some way. We have to know how to deal with that – we have to know how to control interruptions of breathing as they happen. Once our stress is gone, we then have to know how to recuperate.
If you breathe properly, even before the stress begins, you can create a huge energy reserve in your body. Then it becomes a lot harder to throw you off. You create a center when you breathe with your abdomen. When you have a center, you are more confident and coordinated, and when you have confidence you are not afraid of challenges.
Everything great is simple. These techniques offer you challenges that lie right at the edge of your current strength level, and are simple enough that anybody can do them in any environment, with no special training. If you want to relax you need to breathe properly, and you cannot achieve natural posture without relaxation.
You can use these breathing techniques to relax before a presentation or performance; you can use them to clear your mind, so that you can solve problems creatively; or you can use them to compose yourself before a job interview. Using these techniques regularly can help you to maintain a relaxed and calm state of mind.
Imagine that you are having a particularly stressful day, and everything seems to be going wrong. When you have to deal with situations like these, your heart may race, your breathing may become fast and shallow, and you could even feel that you can’t cope with the task at hand.
These feelings are the result of your body going through sudden changes as it prepares to deal with a perceived threat – this is the famous “fight-or-flight” response. While a small amount of pressure can help you focus and improve your performance, too much short-term stress hinders your ability to work well.
What I offer here is a simple yet effective collection of techniques that will help balance the depleted energy resources and bring the alertness of mind. You will enjoy sustained energy and endurance; you will improve your immune system, and be able to overcome anxiety, depression, and mood swings. Be diligent with the exercises but increase the intensity gradually, realizing your potential.
As you begin to develop your regular practice routine, keep in mind your goals and the time you have available. It is more effective to your long-term development and health to get in a couple of good practice sessions a week than it is to rush through a sloppy session daily. The goal of more energy is important, but it is also a journey of personal development, and you should enjoy that experience. You won’t enjoy it if you turn it into a daily chore, or it becomes one more item on your already busy to-do list.
You can sit on the edge of a chair but keep your back straight and away from the back of the chair. If you decide to do this in standing position, then plant your feet firmly on the floor, hip-width apart. Soften your joints – ankles, knees, hips. At the same time, feel your spine straighten up, so that you feel loose but have height. Keep the head straight but allow it to bob about slightly on the atlas joint (the pivot which makes it possible for you to nod). Relax your shoulders.
Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind the hard palate (the hard ridge behind your top row of teeth), and keep it there as you breathe. Put your right hand on your diaphragm (just below the belly button), and your left hand on your upper chest. You should feel no movement here. Breathe in and feel your stomach expand; breathe out and push the stomach gently back in with it. We tend to “breathe backwards” (hunching our shoulders and sucking our stomachs in when we take a deep breath); this exercise makes us aware of the correct way to breathe.
Put one hand on your abdomen, just below your belly button. The air coming in through your nose should move downward into your lower belly. Feel your hand rise about an inch each time you inhale and fall about an inch each time you exhale. Your chest will rise slightly, too, together with your abdomen. Relax your belly so that each inhalation will expand your abdomen fully.
As your lungs reach capacity, pause for a moment, then exhale smoothly and gently through your nose or through your mouth until your lungs are comfortably empty but do not strain. Your stomach should move in, but try to keep your spine straight. Pay attention to how you feel when you inhale and exhale normally and when you breathe with your abdomen. Notice the feeling and how it differs from chest breathing. Shallow breathing often feels tense and constricted, and deep breathing produces relaxation.
This completes one cycle of deep breathing. Rest for a few minutes; then do ten more breaths. If you experience dizziness or are uncomfortable at all, stop and breathe regularly for a few minutes before resuming. You will be able to master this in less than three to two weeks if you practice regularly.
As you breathe out, imagine that the air leaving your body carries tension and anxiety away with it. Be gentle and do not rush your breathing. Let it flow and you will discover a rhythm to the breath. Be patient – while breathing sounds like an easy thing to do, deep breathing takes practice. When you first start, 5 minutes is a reasonable goal. Gradually you can add time and extend your sessions from 5 to 15 minutes.
If you have trouble falling asleep, practice this technique before going to sleep – you may be surprised by how easily you will fall asleep. In working with your breath, you will discover that changing your breath sequence changes the feelings and energy throughout your body. You will also discover that emotional stress and constricted breathing are interconnected. When you control your breath, you control your emotions. The profound relaxation induced by diaphragmatic breathing reestablishes emotional equilibrium and frees energy for the tasks of your daily living and for healing.
The mechanics of deep breathing are simple to learn and even master with minimal daily practice. You can make your practice even more effective if you breathe in and out through the nose rather than the mouth. Form a purely physiological perspective, this is more effective for you because nose hairs filter out small particles of dust and dirt. From an energetic perspective, when you breathe in and out through the nose you not only cleanse your physical body, you also keep the fresh energy you accumulated during breathing.
When you breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth it has a stronger expelling effect, and you are cleansing more than energizing your physical body.
Your breathing should be smooth and easy. As you start, the muscles of your torso may prevent you from breathing deeply from your diaphragm. Nevertheless, stick with your practice. Those muscles will eventually loosen up. Do not consciously try to slow down your breathing; let it happen.
And do not practice on a full stomach. Your body is focused on digestion within an hour or two after you have eaten. It is better to practice your breathing thirty minutes before or two hours after a meal.
If you are having difficulty getting the mechanics of deep breathing, check out the following exercises.
• Lie down on your back on a firm surface, with your knees up and feet flat on the ground.
• Take a full, deep abdominal breath (though do not strain); then hold it gently.
• While holding the breath in, suck in your abdomen, moving your navel back toward your spine. Your diaphragm will move up into your chest, and your ribcage will move up slightly as you do this.
• Hold this position for a second, and while still holding your breath, relax and push your abdomen back out, allowing it to bulge.
• Keep this position for a second, and while still holding your breath, repeat the suck in/bulge out sequence again. See if you can do a set of up to ten repetitions while holding your breath.
• Eventually you will find it easy to do up to thirty repetitions of this movement during one held breath. What this exercise does is force the diaphragm to move up and down, increasing its mobility. It also allows some gentle stretching and relaxation of the muscles at the front and sides of the abdomen.
• Lie down on your back on a firm surface. Your legs can be bent at the knee or extended straight out.
• Place a book on your navel. It should be heavy enough that you can feel its weight without being too uncomfortable. A heavy hardcover book without the dust jacket works best.
• Now, begin pranic breathing as you learned in the previous exercises, breathing slowly, evenly, and deeply. The book should rise and fall with each breath. If the book does not move, try a heavier book until you can feel your abdomen area.
• Take your time. When you can tell you are getting your breath deep into your abdomen, do the exercise without the book. If at any time, you lose the feeling, simply put the book back.
Perform this simple test:
1. Breathe in gently for two seconds;
2. Exhale gently for three seconds;
3. Hold your breath, pinching the nose after exhaling;
4. Hold your breath until you feel the first urges to breathe in;
5. Count the seconds that you held your breath for.
If your pause lasts less than 10 seconds, you have serious health problems. If you can hold it for less than 25 seconds, your health probably requires attention. Holds between 30-40 seconds are average. Above 60 are excellent.
Log your performance in your journal and try integrating a few minutes a square breathing (exercises mentioned below) into your day for one week, then re-test your breathing. You will be astonished by how much progress you have made in just 7 days.
There are many different systems that teach breathing rhythm as a method of calming your mind during severe situations, or as a method of increasing energy or promoting relaxation. We will look at the most basic one. This is also known as autogenic breathing or combat breathing.
1. Put your tongue on your palate and keep it there as you breathe.
2. Inhale for four counts in the deep breathing manner you learned in previous exercises. Avoid over-inhaling or bloating the lungs.
3. Hold the full lungs for four counts. Notice any tension that arises in your muscles and allow it to drip away.
4. Exhale comfortably from the mouth for an equal count of four. Avoid over-forcing or making harsh wheezing noises from the throat. Exhales should be crisp and driven by the core of the body. They should be sharp and whistling rather than loud and ultimately become silent.
5. Hold the lungs empty for four counts.
6. Repeat the cycle.
At the outset of your practice, do two or three sets of ten cycles daily. Take a minute or two between sets. Then shorten the length of your rest time as you progress. With practice, you won’t need to consciously count off the rhythm in your mind.
You can begin by using one second per count; however, the length of the counts is not as important as maintaining the ratio and the steady pace. As you progress, you may find that your heartbeat is an effective pacing mechanism. If you are prone to anxiety, this will help you reduce your heart rate.
When ready you can start with the next exercise:
• Inhale for 1, hold for 1, exhale for 1, hold for 1.
•Inhale for 2, hold for 2, exhale for 2, hold for 2.
•Inhale for 3, hold for 3, exhale for 3, hold for 3.
•and then descending in reverse order.
Practice as often as you can. Do this regularly for a month or two, every day, or every second day, and you will be able to climb to a breathing scale up to 8. And then descending in reverse order.
When performing a square breath, beginning by inhaling for a count of 1, holding for a count of 1, exhaling for 1 and holding empty for 1. Continue by climbing by one count every breath (2-2-2-2, 3-3-3-3, etc.) until you reach “square-8”. In many ancient chi kung and yoga texts, they refer to “master level” breathing as “breathe without breathing”.
In other words, you have achieved a point where you are taking only 2 breaths per minute. You can improve your breathing by 9 times in just 90 seconds. I would note that even then you would not be inhaling deeply, but rather sipping the air, inhaling slowly and taking in only the very little that you need to function optimally. Over-breathing will only serve to add tension to the body.
From there, if you maintain that count for just a few cycles and then gradually decrease the square rate, stepping back (7-7-7-7, 6-6-6-6, 5-5-5-5, etc.), until returning to 1, you will have cleansed and normalized your body function in a simple, direct and easily measurable process, without mysticism or confusion.
This yoga technique is very useful during times of stress or at any time when you need to relax. It is extremely relaxing and can be done before bed to assist with sleep issues.
Sit comfortably and close your eyes. With your mouth closed, exhale deeply through your nose. Imagine that you are pouring the breath out of a jug, starting at the top of your chest and moving down through your mid-torso and into your diaphragm.
Pause for two counts at the bottom of the breath, and then inhale through your nose. Refill the “jug” slowly, counting to five (or seven if you can make it). Start at the bottom, expanding your diaphragm and belly, then your mid-torso, and lastly the top of your chest and lungs. Pause for two counts and exhale as before. Repeat 5–10 times.
You can also modify this exercise to look like this:
While standing, inhale naturally through the nose, pacing the inhale to fill your lungs. Avoid over-inhaling or bloating the lungs. Then slowly breathe out. Relax and breathe. When you are ready, proceed with the following sequence:
Inhale for 3 seconds, hold for 1 second, exhale for 3 seconds, hold for 1 second.
Inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 1 second, exhale for 1 second, hold for 5 seconds.
Inhale for 1 second, hold for 3 seconds, exhale for 1 second, hold for 3 seconds.
Repeat this for three rounds.
Previously peaceful days can be destroyed with force and suddenness due to violence and aggression. It does not just affect your day; it can affect your whole life. By handling the worst situations calmly, you will be the eye of the storm where the chaos revolves around you. To do this, you need to control your breathing. Circular breathing is a method that will help you breathe slowly and focus your attention so you stay calm and controlled. It is a martial tradition from East Asia, once used by warriors on the battlefield to remain calm. By controlling your body, your life is more in control and you will be able to handle crisis much better.
This breathing method is very helpful when you anticipate a situation that could be dangerous. It could be walking through a hallway or even seeing the potential danger coming towards you. This form of breathing will activate your whole nervous system. It enhances that survival instinct as well as your creativity. It can even help you during confrontations, including verbal ones. People become more upset or stressed when they are around someone who is upset. However, it works the other way and they become more peaceful when around someone who is calm. The mood of someone is usually developed from the most powerful person nearby.
Your physical organization does affect your thinking. By breathing and sitting like someone who is depressed—with a slumped posture and shallow breathing—you will start to feel depressed. If you sit with tension around your body and have your fists clenched, you will feel anger bubbling up inside of you.
Circular breathing is great for after a crisis has passed. You will go back to the relaxed and calm state that you were in before. You will be ready for a future crisis that comes your way. It will help you remove the feelings that you felt during the crisis so that violence isn’t brought back to the people around you. So, before you go into your home, sit in the yard or your car and breathe like this just for a moment.
That way you only bring yourself home. It is possible to breathe slowly while moving quickly. You can train your mind and body to do this whenever there is stress or danger present. It will make this type of response automatic. Create your own mindset with circular breathing; one that is ready for whatever life throws at you, adaptable for the situation and prepared for fight or easy conversation without being fixed on either. The aim is to gain a pseudo-instinct, where your response is trained and deep and there is no need to think about it. It’s just like automatically pulling your hand away when touching something hot.
Circular breathing has two variations and you can try either to find the best one for you. Once you decide the best one, only practice that one. With regular training, eventually it becomes second nature and there is no need to constantly think about it. Your breathing becomes central instead of the situation, your posture or the things being said between you and the other person. This is not something to learn for meditative or relaxation purposes. It is for emergencies. You want to enhance your ability so you can do whatever you need, whenever you need it; whether that is to dodge, fight, think intelligently, be graceful or leave.
When you first practice, do so while seated and balanced. Once you develop some skill, try circular breathing standing, leaning, or even while driving. Most people find that after a short period of time they do not need to visualize the circulation of the breath. You literally will feel it, as a ring of energy running through your body. You begin to feel balanced and ready for anything. Once you are comfortable with your chosen pattern of breathing, experiment with it in slightly stressful circumstances, like being caught in traffic, dealing with an angry individual trying to argue, etc.
When you can better manage yourself in these slightly anxiety-provoking situations, you will naturally shift into this mode of breathing when a crisis hits. There will no longer be a need to tell yourself to “do” circular breathing. It will become reflexive and automatic, replacing old patterns of breathing that actually increased anxiety or anger within you.
• Sit comfortably, feet on the floor, hands in your lap.
•Sit relaxed, but upright. Do not slump or twist your posture. Keep your eyes open.
•Breathe in through the nose.
•Imagine the air traveling in a line down the front of your body to a point 2 inches below the navel.
•Momentarily pause, letting the breath remain in a dynamic equilibrium.
•As you exhale, imagine the air looping around your lower body, between your legs and up through the base of your spine.
•Continue to exhale, imagining the air going up your spine and around your head and then out of your nose.
• Sit comfortably, feet on the floor, hands in your lap.
•Sit relaxed, but upright. Do not slump or twist your posture. Keep your eyes open. Breathe in through the nose.
•Imagine the air going around your head, looping down the back, falling down each vertebra, continuing down past the base of the spine to the perineum, and
•Looping again, this time up the front of the body to a point 2 inches below the navel.
•Momentarily pause, letting the breath remain in a dynamic equilibrium.
•As you exhale, imagine the air ascending up the centerline of your body and out your nose.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you practice with your eyes closed, your newly trained nervous system will send an impulse to close your eyes in emergency situations. If you want to use a breathing method for closed-eye guided imagery or relaxation to get away from your problems, so to speak, use another method altogether.
You can find a lot more information on the topic of breathing if you decide to go on Google, YouTube, or elsewhere. However, that way you can easily get overloaded with information. Instead of taking action you will be procrastinating.
That is why I have written this book, so you can use fundamental knowledge about breathing to start changing the way you habitually breathe, right now. Put the information into practice. Not tomorrow, now. Commit yourself to daily practice.
Choose one breathing exercise – I suggest box breathing if you are a beginner – and master it. This means that you should practice it at least 5 minutes each day.
That is all that you have to do. If you haven’t remembered anything else, or don’t know where to start, practice box breathing for 5 minutes each day. This very simple change will make a profound difference in your health and in the quality of life.
Thank you for reading. Now, take action and get results!
NOTE: If you have any questions related to the topic, you can . I’ll write back to you.
Steve Lumen is entrepreneur, explorer, and a long-life learner. His passion and focus is sharing knowledge and experience with other people, helping them move forward to achieve their goals and make a difference in the world.
You can find out more about him on his Author Page, or you can visit my site – .
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