The Long Deep Breath is one of the most ancient, basic and most powerful practices I know. My whole perspective changed the day I joined a yoga class and learned that there were healthy and unhealthy ways to breathe. Who knew you could breathe incorrectly? The mastery of this breath became a lifeline for me in all kinds of situations. This breath floods the body with fresh oxygen and stimulates a calming response. The benefits are numerous, including stimulating brain activity, neutralizing the fear response, rejuvenating the circulatory system and slowing the pulse.
In this simple practice, you will understand the nuances of the breath and gain knowledge of how you are breathing. This will give you a baseline to start from. When you are familiar with this breath, you can call on it in any situation or circumstance of daily life. If thoughts of judgment pop into your mind, notice their arrival and do your best to release them by bringing your focus back to the breath again.
- Sit in a chair or on the ground in a position that allows your spine the ability to lengthen. Use whatever pillows or props you need to make this position as comfortable as possible.
- Sit tall and feel the crown of your head reaching towards the sky.
- Tip your chin just enough to lengthen the back of the neck, so the breath can flow freely.
- Place your hands on your belly and breathe as you normally breathe. Notice: is your belly pulling in when you take a breath, or pushing out? If your belly pulls in on the inhale, your breath will be shallow, only letting the air enter the upper part of your lungs. When your belly expands on the inhale your lungs are flooded with fresh air, blowing up like a balloon.
- Keep your hands on your belly as you practice. Inhale. Feel your body expand, starting with your chest and stretching all the way to your belly. If your breath doesn’t make it to your belly at first, don’t worry. Allow it to go where it feels most natural, and over the course of time, work towards moving it deeper into your body. It will happen with practice and dedication.
- Exhale. Feel your body contract, from your belly up to your chest. Let all the air from your lungs release.
- Start again.
- Repeat the long deep breath for 3 minutes. Do this simple practice once a day for 40 days.