As the weather cools down for the winter months we can use this breath to help warm us up. It also keeps us alert and lifts our energy. Although the strong version is not recommended for people with heart problems, high blood pressure, hernias, reflux or if they are pregnant or menstruating the easier version is a wonderful choice for all.
Easy version 1 – this is very beneficial for calming the mind and nervous system and can be practiced by everyone.
Sit comfortably with a nice long spine. Bring your hands to your abdomen. Breathe in through your nose and relax your abdomen, feel it billowing out as you fill the lower lungs with air. Allow the breath to rise up into the upper lungs. To breathe out draw the abdomen back towards the spine and expel all the air through your nose. Then relax the abdominal wall for another breath deep down to the bottom of the lungs. Take your time and be sure not to force the breath. Continue for at least 10 breaths.
Easy version 2 – this strengthens and aerates the lungs, but is best not to practice if you have heart or blood pressure problems.
After you have mastered the release and contraction of the abdomen in the above exercise the next step is to draw the abdomen back strongly and sharply on each outward breath while maintaining the relaxed inward breath. This can be practised for 10 breaths and then return to the Easy Version 1 for a few breaths. If it feels right for you then do a few more sets of 10 with an Easy Version 1 break inbetween.
Full version – just stay with the easy versions if you have any of the conditions listed above.
Continue with Easy Version 2 but now you can pick up the pace, breathing a little faster. Always relaxing on the inward breath and shunting the breath out as you exhale through your nose. As your breathing becomes stronger you might be able to take 1 breath in and out every second and with time increase to 2 per second up to 50 breaths. However it’s important to rest with Easy Version 1 between your sets and not to struggle.