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!