Breathing Practices

  • Ocean Breath
  • Balanced Breath
  • Three Part Breath
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing

How to Begin

When starting any of the following breathing practices, be sure you are in a quiet, comfortable place. Begin with just noticing your normal breath and how you are feeling in the moment. As you begin the practice you have chosen notice how it is making you feel. If you feel at all anxious or uneasy, return to your normal breath and maybe try a different practice. It is also nice to just sit and bring awareness to your normal breath for a couple of minutes. Let that be your practice until you are ready to return to one of the formal practices.

Ocean Breath

To begin find a comfortable seat. You want to be sure that your back is straight. Feel free to use support as you need. Some say that this breathing practice sounds like the waves on the shore which is where the name comes from. To start, take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth as if you were going to fog up a mirror. Notice the sound you just made. Now take another breath in and see if you can make that same sound on the out breath with your mouth closed. Notice the sound and the feeling you just created. Now see if you can make that same sound on the in breath and the out breath. Notice the feeling at the back of the throat? It makes the throat somewhat dry and you sound a little like Darth Vader. Try a few rounds of this breath. One inhale and one exhale make a complete breath. Try 5 breaths, sit and notice any changes in your body and mind.

Balanced Breath

To begin, find a comfortable seat. With this breathing practice you are aiming to match the length of the in breath with the length of the out breath. Start with a 3 count in breath and a 3 count out breath. See how that feels. If its comfortable after 3 rounds increase the count to a 4 count in breath and a 4 count out breath. Notice how you feel at this point. If this is going well, feel free to increase the count to a 5 count in breath and a 5 count out breath. You can stay with this count or increase the count to as much as an 8 count breath. Always being aware of how you feel. If it is causing you any anxiety then shorten the breath. A longer breath does not mean a better practice. A comfortable practice that creates as sense of calm and ease is a much better practice.

Three Part Breath

For this practice you may begin in a comfortable seat or lying down. Feel free to place one hand on the chest and the other on the belly. Notice the movement of your breath at your belly. Feel how your hand rises and falls. Try this for a few breaths. Now, take a short in breath feeling the belly inflate, place your hands on your ribs as you breathe in a bit more and feel the ribs inflate, now place your hands just below the collar bones as you take in more of a breath and feel the chest rise. Now slowly begin to breathe out starting at the collar bones, then the ribs and finally the belly. Try it a few more times and see how you feel.  This is a practice that takes time to get used to so don't get discouraged. Everything new takes time and awareness. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Begin in a comfortable seated position. Gently place your thumb of your right hand against the right nostril and the index finger against the left nostril. To begin gently press the right nostril so that you are only breathing through the left. Take a breath in through the left, gently press the left nostril closed and release the right nostril to breath out. Breath in through the right, gently press the right nostril closed to exhale through the left. That is one round of alternate nostril breathing. Each time you breathe in the left, exhale right, breathe in right and exhale left you have completed another round. Try 5 rounds. Once complete try to remain in your seated position and just notice how you feel, mentally, emotionally and physically.