Simple Breathing Practice to Stay Warm
Breathing is pretty amazing. I like to do it all day every day… and what I love most about breathing is that it happens automatically! Imagine if we had to remember to inhale and exhale all day long? Our bodies are true miracle machines.
An interesting aspect of our breath, however, is that we do have the ability to control it. Before I started practicing yoga, the only time my breath would change was if I were angry (shortened fast paced breath) or perhaps after a couple glasses of wine (slow ‘relaxed’ breath). My external environment dictated the quality of my breath. Since starting yoga, I have realized that it’s really the other way around. When I consciously control the pace, rhythm, and tempo of my breath, I can achieve a desired state of mind. Some results of specific breathing practices can vary from feeling energized to relaxed to invigorated to clear minded to sweaty and charged up. Yes, our breath can be like a shot of espresso… or a sleeping pill! We just have to practice.
As the colder months are upon us (yes, even here in Los Angeles it’s getting chilly), I love to stay warm with this breath practice. In yoga, it is called ‘Kapalbhati Pranayama’. The practice is done by sitting upright and taking a deep inhale through the nose. Then, begin by exhaling sharply through the nostrils consistently at a steady tempo. The tempo will differ for each person, however I suggest finding a pleasant challenge in maintaining the breath. The breath is an active exhale through the nose while pumping the lower abdominal each time you exhale. I like to visualize my bellybutton ‘snapping’ back towards my lower back forcefully as I exhale short and crisp through my nose. It is important to stay relaxed in your facial muscles while performing this breath practice so no excess resistance is cultivated.
This breathing practice heats up the body, strengthens and tones the abdomen, releases built up toxins, supports healthy digestion and metabolism, oxygenates the circulatory system, supports the respiratory system, and can correlate to heighten emotional states. I suggest starting with twenty to thirty seconds and then stop and feel the effects. Gradually you can increase the amount of time and practice for up to ten minutes at a time.
Avoid this practice if you have high blood pressure, cardiac issues, or colds/nasal obstruction.
Refer to the video below for an idea of what it should look like.
Stay warm and happy breathing!