From the Chopra Center
(5 min) Belly Breath This is a core breathing technique that is often used in yoga classes. It helps bring awareness to the body and calms the mind. If you are new to pranayama, it’s helpful to initially perform this lying down, knees bent if needed, in order to feel the muscles of the abdomen engaging. Once you become familiar with the practice, you can continue while sitting.
Place one hand on your belly.
Take a deep breath in through the nose, drawing air toward your lower belly. Feel the
belly expand and rise as you inhale.
Exhale through the nose and feel the belly contract and lower. The hand on your belly
should move down to its original position. The breaths should be deep and elongated.
Practice this technique 3 to 5 minutes several times a day, or whenever you feel stressed.
The Complete Breath is known as Dirgha Pranayama. Dirgha means “long” in Sanskrit
and includes the expansion of the abdomen, chest, and neck region. This breath helps
to calm the mind and develop deeper awareness.
While lying down or sitting, place one hand on your belly and the other on your
Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose, drawing the air into the lower
abdomen and pelvic area, feeling your hand rise with the belly.
Continuing to inhale, feel the rib cage begin to expand outward as the mid-
section of the torso becomes engaged.
Finally, draw the air into the upper chest and allow the collar bones to rise. Feel
the hand rise with the chest.
At the peak of inhalation, pause for a moment, then exhale gently in reverse
order, releasing the upper chest first, then the diaphragm and ribs, and finally the
lower abdomen. Slightly contract the abdominal muscles to push residual air out
of the bottom of your lungs.
After some practice, it should start to feel like a gentle wave motion.
Perform a few rounds and then notice how you feel.
When you are feeling anxious or ungrounded, practice Alternate Nostril Breathing, known as
Nadi Shodhana in the yogic tradition. This will immediately help you feel calmer.
Hold your right thumb over your right nostril and inhale deeply through your left nostril.
At the peak of your inhalation, close off your left nostril with your fourth finger, lift your
right thumb, and then exhale smoothly through your right nostril.
After a full exhalation, inhale through the right nostril, closing it off with your right thumb
at the peak of your inhalation, lift your fourth finger and exhale smoothly through your left
Continue with this practice for 3 to 5 minutes, alternating your breathing through each
nostril. Your breathing should be effortless, with your mind gently observing the inflow
and outflow of breath.
The Ocean’s Breathing chair or lying on floor knees bent
When you feel angry, irritated, or frustrated, try Ocean’s Breath, or Ujjayi (pronounced oo-jai).
This will immediately soothe and settle your mind.
Take an inhalation that is slightly deeper than normal. With your mouth closed, exhale
through your nose while constricting your throat muscles. If you are doing this correctly,
you should sound like waves on the ocean.
Another way to get the hang of this practice is to try exhaling the sound “haaaaah” with
your mouth open. Now make a similar sound with your mouth closed, feeling the outflow
of air through your nasal passages.
Once you have mastered this on the outflow, use the same method for the inflow breath,
gently constricting your throat as you inhale.
• Continue for 3 to 5 minutes or however long it feels comfortable. (2min) 5. The Energizing Breath
When you are feeling blue or sluggish, try the Energizing Breath or Bhastrika. This will give you
an immediate surge of energy and invigorate your mind.
Begin by relaxing your shoulders and take a few deep, full breaths from your abdomen.
Now start exhaling forcefully through your nose, followed by forceful, deep inhalations at
the rate of one second per cycle. Your breathing is entirely from your diaphragm,
keeping your head, neck, shoulders, and chest relatively still while your belly moves in
Start by doing a round of 10 breaths, then breathe naturally and notice the sensations in
your body. After 15 to 30 seconds, begin the next round with 20 breaths. Finally, after
pausing for another 30 seconds, complete a third round of 30 breaths. Beginners are
advised to take a break between rounds.
Although Bhastrika is a safe practice, stay tuned in to your body during the process. If you feel
light-headed or very uncomfortable, stop for a few moments before resuming in a less intense
Contraindications: Do not practice Bhastrika if you are pregnant or have uncontrolled
hypertension, epilepsy/seizures, panic disorder, hernia, gastric ulcer, glaucoma, or vertigo. Use
caution if there is an underlying lung disease.
Performing one of these breath techniques for only five minutes twice daily can produce long-
term benefits. You can also use them any time you are feeling stressed or notice that your
breathing has become constricted. By training your body with a regular practice of deep
breathing, you will begin to breathe more effectively even without concentrating on it. You can
practice anytime and anywhere; you literally have the power to change your life within you
through the power of the breath.
“Healing is every breath.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
Namaste ' Kim Brockington