One to One Breathing

The first practice as part of learning diaphragmatic breathing is to establish a habit of even breathing. In this the exhalation and inhalation are about the same length and there is no pause or break at the end of the inhalation or exhalation. Work with this in shavasana then while sitting with the head neck and trunk straight and the body relaxed. Focus your awareness at the navel center and establish diaphragmatic breathing.  Count the breath, e.g. exhale 1 2 3 inhale 1 2 3 exhale 1 2 3 inhale 1 2 3 …

Pay close attention at the transition points in the breath. At the end of the exhalation move smoothly into the inhalation without a pause. As you come to the end of the inhalation, move smoothly into the exhalation without a pause. Continue this awareness for a few minutes or until you feel your breath becoming smooth and even, like a wave or a circle. Focus your mind on the breath and the count.

You can also work with this while walking. Link the exhalation and inhalation to your steps (e.g. two steps while exhaling, two steps while inhaling…) Let the breath flow smoothly, without any pauses or breaks. I have found walking to be an excellent way of building this habit of smooth diaphragmatic breath 24/7.

Two to One Breathing

The yogis say our lifespan is counted not in years but in breaths. The slower the breath, the longer we live! After you have established a firm habit of smooth, even diaphragmatic breath, we can lengthen the breath by practicing 2:1 breathing. In this practice, the exhalation becomes twice as long as the inhalation and there are no pauses or breaks in the breath at the transition points.

Work with this in shavasana then later while sitting with the head neck and trunk straight and the body relaxed. Focus your awareness at the navel center and establish diaphragmatic breathing. Count the breath, e.g. exhale 1 2 3 inhale 1 2 3 exhale 1 2 3 inhale 1 2 3 … Pay close attention at the transition points in the breath. At the end of the exhalation move smoothly into the inhalation without a pause. As you come to the end of the inhalation, move smoothly into the exhalation without a pause. Continue this awareness for a few minutes or until you feel your breath becoming smooth and even, like a wave or a circle. Focus your mind on the breath and the count. Now extend the exhalation a bit while continuing the inhalation the same, e.g. exhale 1 2 3 4 inhale 1 2 3 exhale 1 2 3 4 inhale 1 2 3.

Once this feels effortless, extend the exhalation longer – exhale 1 2 3 4 5 inhale 1 2 3 etc. until you reach the ratio of 2:1 – exhalation twice as long as inhalation. Continue for 5 or 10 minutes. Allow your breath to come back to equal length of exhalation and inhalation as you complete the practice and continue this breath awareness as you continue with your day. You can also work with this while walking. Link the exhalation and inhalation to your steps (e.g. up to four steps while exhaling, two steps while inhaling…) Let the breath flow smoothly, without any pauses or breaks. Gradually increase the length of the exhalation. This is also a recommended way to increase your capacity and postpone fatigue while cycling, hiking and jogging.

Contact: Lynn Fraser  stillpointyoga.ca@gmail.com