This life-changing practice is a spectacular tool for dissolving forms of mental and physical tension. By releasing these tensions, we are empowered to step beyond the thinking mind. Breathwork is a key that unlocks access to the magnificent inner life-force that exists within us all, allowing us to experience and engage with our own consciousness.
Breathwork is a powerful and dynamic spiritual tool. In the days to come, we’ll learn–and experience–how breathwork is a catalyst for inner-growth. Breathwork enables us to process and release old memories and emotions, transcend sadness, anger and grief, and reshape causes and conditions to create new circumstances and experiences.
Breathwork has tangible effects on the physical body, too. In this practice, the nervous system shifts from a sympathetic to parasympathetic state, into a mode of ‘rest and digest,’ where insights and intuitions effortly arise.
Breathwork also has a tonifying effect on the vagus nerve, which runs down the center of the body. The vagus nerve is responsible for the “gut-brain” connection and links the brain to the heart, lungs and many other parts of the body. Through breathwork, we tone the vagus nerve, in turn boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression and building mental and physical resilience.
Diaphragmatic breathing, the breathwork we will learn today, is the main tool for toning up the vagus nerve.
Set Yourself Up For Practice
Prepare the body for today’s practice by assembling a yoga mat and, if you’d like, a bolster or pillow to support your knees. To allow for the optimal flow of breath, do not place anything under your head. Prepare the mind by setting an intention.
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During the practice, we are reminder to focus on softening tension in six specific parts of the body: soles of the feet, palms of the hand, all four corners of the eyes, the region around the ears, the tongue as it rests in the floor of the mouth, and the entire pelvic floor and groin region. This softening enables the breath to move tension out of the nervous system.
As you breathe, focus on an intention. Ask yourself, what would it feel like to know your intention was already fully manifest? Use a memory to evoke a similar feeling, and breathe this feeling into your body.
Tools and Tips
Remember that in this breathwork practice, we breathe in and out throughout the mouth. You’ll take two breaths in through the mouth, and one breath out through the mouth. On the inhale, the first half of the breath comes right into the low belly, and the second half of the breath comes into the upper chest. Then, you exhale completely.
It’s normal (and expected) to experience intense physical sensations. You may take breaks as needed, though be mindful of whether you physically need a break, or if the resistance is simply your mind shying away from an unfamiliar feeling. If the latter, try to breathe into the feeling.
If you feel your breath “stuck” at any point, try a deep belly laugh. This may feel silly, but it opens your diaphragm and allows for a strong and smooth flow of breath.
How do you feel when you soften the body and imagine your intentions as already manifested? Describe what that looks like.