We’ve covered the basic understanding of breath control and its benefits in part 1. Now, when it comes to the how, it’s simple!
You may practice in any bodily position at any point over the course of your day and night.
1. Straighten up your posture! A straight back and open chest allow for full oxygenation and overall energy circulation. It may be challenging to hold proper posture at first, but in due time your lower back will strengthen up and your posture will become something you hold with pride and power. If you don’t already know what constitutes good posture, check out what the Mayo Clinic has to say here.
2. Empty your lungs completely by pulling the diaphragm and belly button inward until there is no more air in your lungs. If you are in the right place (AKA not driving), you may find that closing your eyes during this process is helpful to remaining focused.
3. Starting at the point below your belly button, begin drawing air into your lungs. Keep it steady, continue inhaling by pushing out the diaphragm, and fill up the chest last. Note that by drawing the diaphragm back in slightly once it is full, you can allow the chest a more free range of expansion, allowing for maximum capacity of oxygen intake. Feel it out, it’ll make more sense when you try it!
Proper breathing is done with the belly and chest, while the neck remains loose. If you feel any tightness around the neck area during this process, simply relax the tightness consciously and continue to focus on using the correct muscles to breath with. In due time the neck will remain relaxed by itself during the breathing process. If you feel soreness in your diaphragm at first, that is a good sign. You are exercising the muscles for breathing that haven’t quite been used to their fullest extent very much before; in due time you will strengthen these muscles and be breathing much more easily and powerfully than before.
4. Take a moment at the arc of the breath to allow the full effect of oxygen to enter your blood stream. If you are in a relaxed position, with practice you will find it easy to hold the breath here for longer periods of time, allowing deeper levels of conscious stillness and energy absorption. When you are ready, release with a slow and steady exhale. Remember, the exhale is where the release is, so it is important that the exhale is longer and more calm than the inhale, whereas the inhale may be quicker and filled with invigoration, yet still smooth and steady.
5. At the bottom of the exhale (get it all out by contracting the belly button and diaphragm into the spine!) take another moment’s pause, and then repeat steps 1-4 to your heart’s content.
And there you have it for the how! Feel free to mess around with this - find what feels the best, and keep doing it. If you don't feel quite able to breathe all the way out or in, work with what you can, that is okay. There's no pressure! It is your breath, your progress, your life. Through practice you will reward yourself with success, more and more energy to work with, and you'll find yourself equipped with a new clarity of mind and a connection to the body that you may not have experienced before. Next up we will take a look at some practical applications in every day life of which to apply this practice to.