Nasal Inhale Oral Exhale

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Breathe in through the nose and breathe out through the mouth. We have been exploring this breathing pattern at the breathwork seminars and trainings lately. “Breathe in through the nose and breathe out through the mouth.” Simple instructions. Powerful Breathing pattern.

This nasal inhale and oral exhale exercise is used by martial artists and athletes. With practice, you can learn to literally suck pain and fatigue out of your muscles and release it from your body. You can also dramatically increase your focus and concentration, and you can center and relax yourself.

We know that the nose has tiny hairs that filter dust, and it has mucus membranes that trap microscopic particles. It warms or cools the air depending on what is needed. The nose also has structures built into it that actually spiral the air before it flows down into the lungs.

When you breathe in through your nose, imagine that you are enjoying your favorite fragrance. One of my favorites since childhood has been fresh cut grass. Another is lilacs. And another is the smell of bread baking in the oven. What are some of yours?

We have the ability to put ourselves right into an imagined or remembered experience and breathe it in as if we are right there and it is happening right now. This is important because our body-mind system on some level does not know the difference between a real experience and an imagined one.

I love how my friend Stig Severinsen says: “when we breathe in through the nose, we let the brain know that we are breathing.” Breathing through the nose is also a way of focusing our attention. And we can increase our awareness of subtle energies when we breathe in through the nose.

The mouth, on the other hand, is a bigger opening, and so it allows a quicker, fuller, and more total release of the breath. We can also express feelings and emotions when we breathe through our mouth. For example, “aahh” is the sound of letting go. It’s a soothing and relaxing sound. And so by breathing in through the nose and breathing out through the mouth, we can create a wide range of beautiful and powerful experiences.

Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Simple enough, but how exactly do you do that? Do you seal your lips in order to breathe in through your nose? Do you press your tongue to the roof of your mouth to close that passage? Or do you close something in the back in your throat?

If you seal your lips in order to channel the air through your nose on the in-breath, then when you open your mouth to exhale, you will naturally form a “mah” or “pah” sound. Try it now. Close your lips, and breathe in. The air has no choice but to flow in through the nose. When you exhale, allow the breath to push your lips open. Notice the sound it makes.

If you press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, you will block the passage and the air will naturally flow in through the nose. When you relax and release the tongue to allow the breath to flow out through your mouth, you will naturally produce a “nah” or “tah” or “dah” sound. Try it now.

If you block the passage by blocking your throat with the back of your tongue, when you release and open the passage to exhale through your mouth, you will produce a “gah” or “kah” sound. Play with that right now.

Maah (or “paah”)

Naah (or “taah”)

Kaah (or “gaah”)

If you purse your lips when you exhale through the mouth as if you are saying “ooh,” you will make a “pooh” sound. If you pressed your tongue to the roof of your mouth, you will make a “tooh” sound on the exhale, and if you closed the back of your throat, you will make a “kooh” or “gooh” sound.

“Mooh” (or “pooh”)

“Tooh” (or “dooh”)

“Kooh” (or “gooh”)

Isn’t breathing fun!

When you shape the stream of breath in different ways, you produce different sounds, and you also evoke different feelings. Play with your breath in this way. Play with the nasal inhale and oral exhale pattern. Play with the sounds, and observe the subtle changes in your energy as you do.

Use your imagination and deliberately generate pleasure with each breath. Add visualization, affirmations, or positive intentions to the practice to create a beautiful inner state. Have fun!

Focus on Breathing

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This month I have been focusing on breathing with many experienced breathwork practitioners. This includes a host of professional breathworkers from around the world who gathered for the 23rd Annual Global Inspiration Conference in South Africa; and it includes some of our advanced students in Russia, as well as the many seasoned breathers and members of the practitioner training group in Lithuania. It also includes skype consultations and online meetings with my VIP members.

Here are some of the things that breathworkers and conscious breathers focus on when breathing, and while coaching, facilitating, or supporting others during a breathing session. These are things we observe, explore, and discuss in ourselves and others:

How would you describe or characterize the general breathing pattern? Is the breathing easy? Smooth? Powerful? Subtle? Is there effort involved? Is it natural? Is it forced? Is it active? Lazy?  Are there any specific points that stand out? Any qualities or aspects that are unique or interesting? Can you observe the subtle details? Is the breathing mechanical, or is it alive? Is it conscious?

What can you sense from the breathing? If breathing isthe language of the soul, what does the breathing pattern express or reflect about the breather? What emotions can you sense are being felt just under the surface? What would happen if the breathing were to become more powerful or more subtle, faster, slower, deeper?

Is the breathing full and free? Is it inhibited or restricted? Is the breathing in the chest? The belly? Through the nose? The mouth? Are there breath sounds? Is relaxation present? What muscles are being used? What would happen if you/they relaxed more? What is happening in the jaw? The neck? The throat? The spine? The forehead? The shoulders? The belly? Finger tips? Does the whole body breathe? Does the whole body relax?

Are the inhales longer than the exhales? Are the exhales longer than the inhales? Are there pauses between the breaths? Are the inhales active? Are the exhales active? Is there more effort being applied than required? Is there something missing? Is the breathing fast? Slow? Shallow? Deep? Is it rhythmic, choppy, or chaotic? Is there a sense of over-controlling or holding back? Are you/they breathing energy and not just air?

One of the core techniques that we teach and practice is “connected breathing,” “continuous breathing,” or “circular breathing.” This means that there are no gaps or pauses or breaks between the inhales and exhales, exhales and inhales. It is a core technique used in Breathwork.

This particular breathing exercise activates subtle as well as powerful energies in the body. It brings up all kinds of feelings and sensations, thoughts and emotions, fantasies, memories, and so on; and it magnifies them. It is while doing this practice that we ask these questions, that we observe these things I just listed.

If you have never done a connected breathing session, then you don’t know what you are missing, and you really need to try it! You would do well to explore it, learn it, experiment with it, learn it. Find a good teacher, and master it!

The practice of “Breath Awareness” also called “breath watching,” is a mindfulness practice. It leads to tremendous spiritual awakening, self-knowledge and personal growth, emotional clearing, physical healing, self-mastery, self-realization, and even ultimate liberation!

Do yourself a favor, and start practicing it today. Breathe, and observe how you breathe. Practice the connected breathing rhythm, and use it to improve your health and well-being, as well as success in life, love, business, sports, and beyond!

If you would like some coaching or support, or if you simply want more information about breathwork, visit www.breathmastery.com and download my free book: Shut Up and Breathe! When you do, you will automatically subscribe to my Monthly Newsletter and Breathing Report.

I also suggest that you put your name on the pre-order list of “JUST BREATHE!” This book will be published by Simon & Schuster and will be in bookstores everywhere February 14, 2017!

If you would like to search through a growing collection of books, articles, reports, audio and video recordings, seminar and workshop transcripts, handouts, training materials, webinars, interviews… Information on Breathwork… some of it going back more than 35 years, and even centuries, then you may want to join our Breath Mastery Inner Circle: http://www.breathmastery.com/membership/

You may also want to schedule a Skype Consultation, or attend a live training event somewhere in the world. You may want to come down to Mexico and take part in one of our 21 Day Baja retreats or Breathwork Intensives. Contact: office@breathmastery.com for more information.

Good luck in your practice,
and many blessings on your path!

Dan

Breathwork and Brainwaves

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I am in no way an expert on the brain, but I have done quite a bit of personal study and experimenting in American and Russian bio-feedback labs in the 80’s and 90’s. And through study and practice, observations and discussions, I’ve learned some very interesting things about breathwork and brainwave activity.

Throughout our nights and days, we cycle through a range of brainwave states. These cycles regulate our sleeping and waking rhythms, and they reflect our changing experiences and states of being. They come down to these five frequencies: Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma, and Theta.

We all have the ability to deliberately generate certain brainwaves to achieve certain results. For example, we can employ certain frequencies to help us to relax or to deepen our sleep. We can use certain frequencies to increase our creative energy, improve our memory and improve our performance in sports, business, and the arts.

There are a number of ways we can trigger or induce different brainwaves or to shift into different states. And one of the easiest and most direct ways to influence our brain is through conscious or intentional breathing.

Beta waves (12-17 Hz) tend to dominate during most of our everyday lives. We spend most of our time generating beta waves when we are involved in everyday activities, for example, thinking, paying attention, making decisions, or solving problems.

Beta waves are associated with left brain activity and goal oriented analytical thinking. They also occur when we are tense, anxious, afraid or agitated, and when we are stressing out, obsessing over something, or when we are hyper-reactive.

Beta is a perfect state for accomplishing tasks and escaping danger. But beta waves are also linked to anxiety states and the inability to relax. And they can be artificially stimulated with coffee and “energy” drinks.

Alpha waves (8-12 Hz) occur when we are relaxed and reflective or grounded in present moment awareness. Our brain produces alpha waves when we are alert and relaxed but not thinking. Alpha activity is linked to low stress and low anxiety states. Alpha activity accompanies comfort and pleasure, and alpha waves are also connected to memory enhancement.

Alpha waves dominate when we are awake but relaxed. They are linked to right brain emotional intelligence, and calm, lucid, non-thinking states. And they are often accompanied by tranquil floating feelings. Alpha waves tend to lift depression, and depression seems to interfere with alpha waves.

Boosting alpha waves boosts our creativity. Meditation triggers alpha waves. In fact, by simply closing your eyes, you begin to produce more alpha waves. Slow deep breathing boosts alpha waves to help us reduce stress and anxiety.

Breathing slowly through the nose causes nerves in the nose to shift into a slower rhythm, which then triggers important parts of the brain to slow down. Extending the exhale increases both theta and alpha waves. And so, the 1-2 breath (making your exhale twice as long as your inhale) is a pretty good practice.

Theta waves (3-8 Hz) are generated when we are very relaxed, open, and receptive. Theta waves occur in deep meditation and deep sleep, when we go beyond our normal conscious awareness. Theta frequencies are associated with deep intuitive insights, and those wonderful “ah ha” moments.

The right hemisphere of the brain is generally more active when we are in theta states. Theta waves relate to hypnotic or subconscious states. They are associated with spontaneous healing and spiritual connections, vivid dreams, deep raw emotional and intuitive states. They are present when we access information beyond normal consciousness.

In lab testing in Russia and the USA, I learned that we increase alpha power after five minutes of Conscious Connected Breathing. And after 15 to 20 minutes, our theta power increases. No wonder that the original Rebirthing Center in San Francisco was called “Theta House.”

The brain is very receptive to suggestions during theta activity, and theta waves are linked to hypnotic or subconscious states. That’s why affirmations and guided imagery are such powerful aspects of Breathwork.

Delta waves (2-3 Hz) are the slowest of brain waves. They occur mostly when we are in deep dreamless sleep, or when we lose body awareness. Breathwork often takes us into these deep dreamless sleep states where we produce very slow delta brainwaves. And studies show that healing and regeneration are stimulated when the brain is in the delta state.

Delta waves are associated with detached awareness, and access to the collective unconscious. And growth hormones are released during delta states. Delta waves are absent when healthy adults are in a waking state, but they are very common when children are in the waking state.

Gamma waves (27 Hz and above) are the fastest of the five, and they are associated with states of expanded consciousness and heightened perception. They are connected to the kind of hyper-focused self-awareness and total concentration linked to high performance flow states as well as mystical insights.

Gamma waves are considered to be the brain’s optimal frequency. They bind our senses of perception. Gamma waves are very weak in normal adults, but they are very common in Buddhist meditators, martial art masters, and compassionate mystics. Gamma waves seem to resonate with spiritual beings and ascended masters.

When our brain vibrates at gamma frequencies, we have rapid and vivid memory recall, with sharp and clear moment to moment focus. Gamma waves support self-control and compassion, and they are associated with the flow state, being in the zone. Oh, and by the way, whales and dolphins operate in this frequency range.

Brain waves are contagious. They are actually catchy. And so, it’s a good idea to choose your company wisely. Be sure to hang out in person or virtually with high frequency, loving, compassionate, creative people, to soak up their vibes!

There are many cool high-tech wearables and devices we can play with that make use of sound, light, energy and vibration to help us synchronize with various brainwave states. High nutritional superfoods can also help to raise our vibrational frequencies.

So, there you have it: some musings on breathwork and brainwaves! I am crazy about this stuff, so I hope you will share any ideas or information that you find on this fascinating topic.

Good luck in your practice, and many blessings on your path!

Practicing Breathwork. Honoring Ancient Practices

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Many people know that I am a yogi. I was initiated and given the name Guchu Ram Singh in August of 1980 by the legendary Haidakhan Babaji. He is known as the Immortal Yogi Christ of India and is written about in the classic book, “Autobiography of a Yogi.” He was Pramahansa Yogananda’s guru’s guru’s guru.

And so, I am blessed to be part of an ancient living lineage. I’m a bonified, card carrying practicing yogi even though I no longer shave my head and I haven’t worn robes or carried prayer beads around with me for many years. You could say I am a western yogi, or a yogi in disguise.

I am definitely a rebellious yogi—innovative, creative, unconventional, and often irreverent. I believe we shouldn’t be putting new wine in old bottles… or is it old wine in new bottles? Anyway… We live in uniquely new times, so we need new and unique methods and techniques.

I have never been able to sit in the full lotus position and I have no intention of ever mastering that pose or any of the other pretzel positions. My focus has always been on the essence, the ultimate aim, and the original purpose of yoga.

I know too many people who have practiced hatha yoga for many years, and they can get into a hundred difficult and complicated poses. I have to admit they are very flexible, they have great posture and they look really good in stretch pants and tight shirts, but their consciousness hasn’t evolved one iota, and they are no closer to enlightenment, liberation, self-realization, or God for that matter, than they were when they rolled out their yoga mat for the first time.

That being said, it’s a good idea to keep your back straight or to imagine lengthening your spine while you breathe. And there are some ancient pranayama practices that deserve our attention and respect because they are simple yet powerful, they are tried and true. They have remarkable benefits.

We are all living through a very challenging time. You could call it a global health crisis or even a spiritual crisis. To navigate these difficult times, we need to be especially conscious and aware, relaxed and calm, as well as energized and resilient. In other words, it’s a good time to practice breathwork!

In times like these, it’s always a good idea focus on the basics of breathwork. And so, I invite you to practice six of my favorite pranayama exercises. They each have their own ancient Sanskrit name, but what you call them is nowhere near as important as the health benefits they bring.

If you want to be healthy and strong, clear and calm, you will want to master the following yogic breathing exercises.

Sama Vritti Pranayama. This is a very simple practice. Make your inhales and your exhales equal in length. For example, breathe in for a count of 4 and breathe out for a count of 4. Or practice a 3-3, or a 5-5, or a 6-6 count. Start with a pattern you can comfortably manage. Slow and relaxed, smooth and steady are the keys. This practice has a calming effect on your heart rate and for many it is a good way to deal with stress and confusion, anxiety and panic attacks.

Ujjayi Pranayama involves contracting your throat a bit as you breathe in and out to create a scratchy sound, just this side of snoring. I call it the Darth Vader breath. It also reminds me of the sound you get when you put a large seashell close to your ear. This practice helps you to focus on breathing and it also stimulates the vagus nerve. Some people use it to help manage their emotions.

Nadi Shodhana is what you might call ‘alternate nostril breathing’. Start by breathing out thru one nostril while blocking the other, then breathing in thru the other while blocking the one. Alternately closing and opening each nostril using your thumb and ring finger of either hand. Keep switching back and forth like this for about five minutes, or as long as comfortable to fuel, balance and harmonize your mind and body, your left and right brain.

Kapalabhati Pranayama is also called the ‘breath of fire’. It’s a great way to clean and charge your respiratory system, your nervous system, your cardio-vascular system, as well as your immune system. It’s perfect for warding off mental fogginess, general fatigue, as well as physical illness. Sit up straight. Breathe thru the nose. Contract your belly to quickly and forcefully exhale a short burst of breath and let the inhale be quick and reflexive. Breathe as fast as you can comfortably manage. You only need do it for a minute or two to feel the powerful benefits.

Savitri Pranayama is very similar to what is called “box breathing.” It is used to focus the mind and body and to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Breathe in, hold, breathe out, hold. Use a 3-3-3-3 count, a 4-4-4-4 count, or a 5-5-5-5 count. Practice for about five minutes to trigger the health benefits. This technique helps build lung capacity and it can relieve stress. It is used by elite military forces, first responders and corporate executives to prepare for important or stressful events or activities.

Mahat Yoga Pranayama is what you might call the full yogic breath. The idea is to smoothly fill all three breathing spaces, starting with the lower space (from the perineum to the belly button), then the middle space (from the belly button to the nipple line), then the upper space, from the nipple line to the chin). It’s like filling a glass of water: it fills from the bottom up. This exercise helps develop great breath control and it has many fantastic health benefits.

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