When your mind starts going in a thousand different directions and spiking your anxiety, try this long, deep breathing exercise to calm yourself. We can get so busy working through our schedules during the day that we wrap tension around us. Our breath shortens and becomes shallow. When this happens, we are no longer giving ourselves the full measure of fresh life-oxygen and fully releasing our used air. We can get a build-up of waste air at the base of the lungs. This remains and make us feel sick. When we shallow breathe, we end up with a surplus of waste air at the base of the lungs and a deficit of new oxygen into our circulatory system. We are no longer providing the needed support to all the cells in our body. We feel ‘off’, maybe even sick. We feel ungrounded – because we are.
There is a simple solution to this whole imbalance of energy exchange in our body – long, deep breathing. It is an easy tool to use. In fact its impact is so powerful that I hear comments like “It can’t be this easy!” or “if it was this easy, everyone would be doing it”. Well, it IS this easy and not everyone is doing it because not everyone knows about it. I’m here to deliver this good news.
Here are benefits you will enjoy from long, deep breathing:
1) You will calm yourself because this breathing technique stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing sensations of ease and peace.
2) Clears any build up of toxins in the lungs accumulated through shallow breathing.
3) Stimulates the production of feel-good chemicals called endorphins, in the brain.
4) Cleanses the blood.
5) Helps reduce negative thinking by redirecting harmful thinking habits to clear the mind and increase our levels of tolerance and patience.
6) By placing our attention on the breath and away from analytical thinking, it rests the mind, and allows the brain to rest.
“Long Deep Breathing uses the full capacity of the lungs by utilizing the three chambers of the lungs: abdominal or lower, chest or middle, clavicular or upper. Begin the inhale with an Abdominal Breath. Then add the Chest Breath and finish with a Clavicular Breath. All three are done in a smooth motion.
Start the exhale by relaxing the clavicle, then slowly emptying the chest. Finally, pull in the abdomen to force out any remaining air.
Breathe through the nose.
Continue for 26 breaths, or 3 – 31 minutes.
Start by filling the abdomen, then expanding the chest, and finally lifting the upper ribs and clavicle. The exhale is the reverse: first the upper deflates, then the middle, and finally the abdomen pulls in and up, as the Navel Point pulls back toward the spine.
To learn LDB, practice by separating the three parts of the breath. Sit straight on the floor, in a chair, or lie on the back. (It is helpful for beginners to start out on the back.) Initially have the left hand on the belly, right hand on the chest to feel the movement of the diaphragm.
Abdominal Breath: Let the breath relax to a normal pace and depth. Bring your attention to the Navel Point area. Take a slow deep breath by letting the belly relax and expand. As you exhale, gently pull the navel in and up toward the spine. Keep the chest relaxed. Focus on breathing entirely with the lower abdomen.
The diaphragm muscle separates the chest and thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity and intestines. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that is normally in a dome shape. As you relax the diaphragm and extend the belly, the dome flattens and extra space is created to expand the lungs above it. When you exhale, the dome is re-created and the air from the lower lungs is pushed up and out. This pushing allows a portion of the lower lungs to be used efficiently.
Place one hand on the Navel Point and one on the center of the chest. On the inhale, raise the hand on the navel toward the ceiling. On the exhale lower it steadily. With your hand, monitor the chest to stay still and relaxed. Very soon you will notice all the muscles involved in this motion.
Chest Breath: Sit straight and keep the diaphragm still. Do not let the abdomen extend. Inhale slowly using the chest muscles. The chest expands by using the intercostal muscles between the ribs. Do this slowly and focus on the sensation of expansion. Exhale completely but do not use the abdomen. Compare the depth and volume of this breath with the isolated abdominal breath. If you place your hands on the top and bottom parts of the ribs you can feel how the bottom ribs move more than the top ones. They are the floating ribs and are not as fixed as the upper ones are to the sternum. So much of the contribution of the ribs and intercostal muscles comes from an expansion out to the sides of the lower ribs.
Clavicular Breath: Sit straight. Contract the navel in and keep the abdomen tight. Lift the chest without inhaling. Now inhale slowly by expanding the shoulders and the collarbone. Exhale as you keep the chest lifted.
Putting the parts together: Each part of the breath expansion is distinct. If all three are combined, you have a complete Long Deep Breath.
Begin the inhale with an Abdominal Breath. Then add the Chest Breath and finish with a Clavicular Breath. All three are done in a smooth motion.
Start the exhale by relaxing the clavicle, then slowly emptying the chest. Finally, pull in the abdomen to force out any remaining air.” – Excerpted from The Aquarian Teacher: KRI International Teacher Training Level 1 Textbook
© The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan