I hope you've had a great week and found the Pranayamas from last week helpful, I'd really appreciate your feedback if you have any!
Breathing has been the most amazing remedy for some days where anxiety seems to get the better of me. There is honestly nothing more grounding than breathing in and out, and how just this one thing, bring you back to the present in only 10 minutes minimum!
Today I wanted to share another part of the breath work that I do on most mornings - full breaths! These can even be done while you're in bed, especially now that we headed into winter in South Africa!
1. Inhale and Exhale – Belly Breaths
I find this breath to be the most calming for me when we Freedive, this is also what we use to lower the heart rate methodically, so by the time you do you dive, your heart beat has already relaxed a bit.
The idea here is to breath at a ratio of 1:2, so if you inhale for 4 seconds, you would exhale for 8 seconds. This helps us with a few things,
- Taking the time to feel our breath
- Learning to control our breath
- And understanding the different areas of where our breath goes.
For example, a nice full breath would include the belly*, the intercostal muscles and the lungs. The more you are able to learn how to fill the belly first (the diaphragm), then the intercostal muscles, then the chest, the easier your dives can be when you dive to depth or swimming over a reef. This is an invaluable skill.
*We call diaphragmatic breathing belly breathing because this helps us know we are breathing the correct way, as you will often see with little children. When we inhale, the diaphragm flattens and moves down, sucking air into the lungs and as the diaphragm moves down, it pushes the abdominal contents down, which in turn forces the abdominal wall out - the protruding belly :)
The more you practice your full breath, the more you’ll be able to feel where your breath goes, and control your inhale and exhale, and soon it will become second nature.
How : Sit in a comfortable position, with a straight back, or lie down, whichever is more comfortable
Place one hand on your chest, and your other hand over your stomach
Do a series of breaths as follows,
2 minute breathing only into the stomach – you will know you are doing this right as your stomach will fill into your hand, pushing it out/away slightly. Exhale and keep on doing this for 2 minutes. Your hand that is over your chest should not move during this period.
2. Inhale & Exhale - Belly & Chest
This can be followed by 2 minutes of breathing into your belly and then into your chest, followed by an exhale. You should aim to first fill your belly and then your chest.
You will know you are doing this right as the hand over your belly will push out first, then followed by the hand over your chest.
Keep going, the idea is to not feel pain, it may be uncomfortable at first as we often breath in a shallow manner. But do keep going and match your breathing in time and exhale to your comfort level e.g. breathing in for 3 seconds and out for 6 seconds vs the proposed.
3. Intercostal Muscle Breathing
Follow this with 2 minutes working to breathe through your intercostal muscles only, for this exercise we will only use the index finger and your thumb, locate your last rib on each side and position your hands over this area about, your thumbs will wrap around the back of the ribs while the index fingers face each other, the idea is, when you exhale, the 2 index fingers will touch, once you have located this position, continue to breath in and out, with the goal being to breath laterally, so the stomach or chest isn’t pushing the fingers apart but the intercostal muscles stretching, this may take some time, I'll link a video in the week to assist. Do this breath for 2 minutes.
4. Full Breaths - Belly, Intercostals, Chest Breath
And lastly, finish the session with 20 full breaths, focusing on first filling your belly, then intercostal muscles, then chest.
If it’s easier, start only with the belly to chest breathing, and as this gets comfortable, incorporate the intercostal muscle training and take it from there.
I hope these breathing exercises help you feel as brighter and lighter as they have made me feel.
I'll upload a video this week showing the above breath to my YouTube Channel and link it back here, you can subscribe to the channel here,
Wishing you a great week ahead,
Love and Light,