The goal of this breathing method is to affect not only the muscles in the body, but also the physiology of the body. While this breathing technique will produce relaxation and energy, it is important to remember that the fundamental concept is to limit your breath. If you would like to understand more about the physiology of this technique, you can start here: http://www.buteyko.co.uk/.
While it is best to do focused sessions of 15-20 minutes to help recalibrate your natural breathing rhythm, we find that any amount of this breath work will begin to improve your overall health.
How to Perform the Exercises:
All breathing should be done through the nose with mouth closed at all times. The mouth is for eating and the nose is for breathing. Focus on taking the smallest and most silent breath possible. Ultimately your breathing should be unnoticeable.
1. Begin by gently exhaling with little to no force. Don’t try to squeeze any air out, just let yourself deflate. If you exhale too far, you will feel your abdominal muscles contract to push extra air out, this is too much effort. Only release the air until you reach a natural resting state
2. Now, simply sit in this resting state. Do not immediately breath in. Feel the pause of stillness at the bottom of the exhale. Spend 2-3 seconds in this pause. You will notice how relaxed your body is and that you don’t actually NEED to breath in immediately.
3. After a second or two you will feel a slight urge to breath in. It is very important at this point to use as little effort as possible and to take the smallest breath possible. You can think about taking a small sip of air. Just enough to satiate your urge but not enough to cause any obvious muscular contraction, especially in the ribs. If you feel your upper ribs lift, you are taking too deep of a breath. Over time you will become aware of the subtle movement in the middle of the abdomen that produces your effortless small inhale.
4. At the top of your small inhale, immediately release the air as if performing step 1 again. Do not hold the air in your lungs. After you inhale, you need to immediately release. If you hold even the small breath in, you will notice tension creep into the entire body. At this point the cycle has begun again.
5. It is important to understand that if you stay in the resting pause for too long, you will develop too strong of an oxygen debt to maintain effortless small breathing. You will feel your ribs lift and an overwhelming urge to take a deep breath. If this happens, you need to shorten your resting pause period so that you can resume gentle in/out nasal breathing. No matter what, do not breath through your mouth.
It is best to think of this cycle in two parts
I. Sip air in and immediately release
II. Rest in the pause at the bottom of the exhale until you feel a slight urge to repeat step one. Mindfully observe the relaxation of all breathing muscles during the pause.
As you practice you will notice that the time it takes for you to develop the urge to breath will gradually get longer. This means you are making progress. You will also notice that when you release your breath into the pause, that many muscles relax as if you were sighing, especially around the upper ribs and neck area. Notice how the shoulders begin to slide down the back with each gentle exhale.
Your main goal is to spend more and more time in the pause cycle of breathing. Perhaps you can recall a time when you were reading a book and then suddenly thought to yourself, when was the last time I took a breath? This is actually proper breathing. Unobtrusive with long periods of rest between gentle efforts of in and out.
This is the basic breath reduction exercise that we recommend practicing throughout the day.