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Every Breath You Take

From the Trauma Releasing Workshop, these are the breathing techniques I teach.

Your body will quite naturally release stress through sighs, puffed-out cheeks with audible exhales, long blowing out through your mouth, etc. We have been conditioned to see this as rude, especially in children, so we start to train ourselves to suppress these natural stress relievers and to correct this behaviour in others (especially children). Sometimes it isn't appropriate to breathe like this, but whenever possible allow your body to naturally release stress before it builds up, and whenever possible refrain from correcting others. Lying in savasana at the end of a class, I take heavy sighs as a compliment.

BubbleBee Breathing (Bhramari Pranayama)

BumbleBee Breath
  • Plug your ears (option to place fingers over your eyes)

  • Inhale deeply through your nose. Exhale and hum slowly and with low resonance.

  • Keep your jaw relaxed and allow the humming sound to vibrate your mouth and jaw.

  • Helps to stimulate your vagus nerve

  • Increases nitric oxide (NO) levels in the paranasal sinuses (this is a good thing).

Triangle Breathing

  • INHALE for a count of 4

  • Plug your nose, bring your chin to your chest (Jalandhar Bandha, Chin Lock) HOLD for a count of 4

  • Lift head, EXHALE through LEFT nostril for a count of 4 (left nostril connects with the parasympathetic nervous system)

  • Good to do before bed

Diaphragmatic Breathing

  • Sit or lie in a comfortable place.

  • Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen.

  • INHALE through your nose for about 4, feel your abdomen expand

  • EXHALE slowly and steadily through your mouth for about 8, and feel your abdomen draw in

  • Option to exhale through your nose and add Ocean Breath (see below).

  • Pressure from the diaphragm around the heart stimulates the vagus nerve (a bit like a reassuring weighted blanket).

Ocean Breath (Ujjayi Pranayama)

  • Nasal breath that constricts the back of your throat to control, slow, and extend your inhales and exhales.

  • Sounds like waves crashing up on an ocean shore or a whisper from the back of your throat

  • Oscillates your throat and vagus nerve

  • Open your mouth, EXHALE, and fog up an imagined mirror

  • INHALE with the same whisper sound

  • Seal your mouth, and breathe through your nose only, but continue to make the whisper sound both on the inhale and the exhale.

Stress Less Breathing

  • During this practice, you’ll combine the above techniques

  • Sit comfortably

  • INHALE through both nostrils for 4 (option Ujjayi breath)

  • Close your nose, lock your chin, and HOLD for 4

  • Lift your chin and EXHALE for 8 (option Ujjayi or BumbleBee breath)

You do not have to do any of these perfectly. You can experiment to see which technique works best for you.

Key Concepts

  • EXHALE longer than you INHALE

  • VIBRATION and CONSTRICTION (Chin Lock) stimulate the Vagus Nerve which calms the nervous system

  • EXPANDING your abdomen allows for complete filling of your lungs.

  • DRAWING IN your abdomen during exhales provides a calming type of pressure around the heart and complete emptying of your lungs

  • LEFT nostril is connected to the parasympathetic nervous system (Rest-Digest-Heal) You will naturally shift back and forth during the day depending on what you're doing.

If you have been existing in Sympathetic activation (Flight-Flight-Freeze-Fawn) these breathing techniques can sometimes make you feel panicked. Your body's norm is sympathetic activation, and a threat to that can make your body double down on that.

I have had this happen, and it can be scary - sometimes telling someone to take deep breaths during a panic attack can make it worse.

IF this happens, back off, ground yourself and start with simple breath awareness, just noticing your breath and not changing it. From here, if all is well, you can start extending the exhale slightly. If you are helping someone simply ask them to breathe with you, and not do anything more than breath awareness.

Hope this helps!

© 2023 Ruth (Day) Elliott. All rights reserved. Feel free to share this content, but please provide proper attribution by including a link back to this post and giving credit to me.


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