Belly Breathing – Plus More
The other day I was feeling stressed. When I’m at my computer I feel that way frequently. It usually has to do with social media and working to expand Yoga for Self’s presence “out there”. I’m trying to understand what works and what doesn’t which, of course, changes daily because the people who design social media are sadistic. Well, probably not literally but you get my drift.
Anyway, I was feeling more and more overwhelmed and feeling like I was wasting a lot of time. So, I said to myself, time to take a break and practice some of the yoga breathing techniques I teach.
Belly breathing is a very useful tool that quickly activates the relaxation response. (See my blog post Deep Breathing for the Workplace to read about the relaxation response.) But, at that moment, I felt like I needed a little more and decided to use krama exhalation. Krama means segmented so with krama exhalation you don’t exhale fully all at once but in segments. (See Calming Down with Belly Breathing for a refresher on this technique)
For me, krama exhalation deepens the effect of the calming exhale and causes me to focus even more deeply on my breath. Here’s a description of the technique using a two segment exhale:
- Sit forward so your back isn’t touching the back of your chair. Nice tall spine.
- Place both feet on the floor and rest hands in your lap
- Eyes closed or soft gaze down
- Bring your awareness, your attention, to your breath. Take several breaths and notice how your breath moves your body.
- Inhale through your nose and pause for a second after inhale
- Exhale (through your nose) about half your breath contracting your muscles from your lower belly to about mid belly. Be sure to move your attention from lower belly to mid belly as you exhale. Maintain the contraction and pause.
- Exhale your remaining breath contracting your muscles from about mid belly to chest while moving your attention from mid belly to chest. Pause after fully exhaling
- Continue this pattern for several minutes. Be sure to bring your attention back to your breath if your mind wanders.
- When you are ready, slowly open your eyes and bring your attention back to the room
The exhalation can also be done in three segments as long as you don’t feel like you’re forcing your exhalation. The process is the same as above except your exhalation is as follows:
- Exhale about 1/3 of your breath contracting muscles (and moving awareness) from your lower belly to about your navel. Maintain the contraction and pause.
- Exhale another 1/3 of your breath contracting muscles (and moving awareness) from your navel to about mid belly. Maintain the contraction and pause.
- Exhale your remaining breath contracting muscles (and moving awareness) from mid belly to chest.
You may find that you exhale too much breath with the first segment of your exhale and that’s okay. These aren’t exact proportions and you’ll soon find the right balance for you. You’ll probably also notice that krama gives you a little core-strengthening work as well.
Enjoy and Breathe Easy.
Health is a precious gift and my goal is to help you live a healthier, happier life through yoga. Every private session is uniquely designed just for you. For a free telephone consultation call me at 303.818.4181. Discover whether personalized, private yoga instruction is right for you.
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