If you’ve been keeping up with my 30 Days Magical Roots challenge you know that breath work was a task for one of the earlier days. I didn’t get in to too many of my breathing exercises because I wanted to give that topic its own post.
So here it is!
I absolutely love breath work. I’ve dealt with anxiety for most of my life and find breathing exercises to be one of the most helpful things to do.
I deepened my love for breath work in yoga and with my discovery of meditation.
Even when I was a child I remember my dad coaching me and my sisters through breathing exercises when we were upset. It always helped.
Breath work has been with me for most of my life so it has a special place in my heart and practice.
What are breathing exercises and why should you do them?
Breathing exercises are all about bring attention to, you guessed it, your breath.
Some exercises are meant to alter breathing patterns while others are about observing instead.
Either way, focusing on your breath can bring about many benefits, both mundane and magical.
Here are some awesome benefits and uses for breathing exercises:
- Can lower heart rate and blood pressure
- Reducing anxiety
- General relaxation
- Increase focus
- Increase energy
- Encourages full oxygen exchange
- Reduce muscle tension
I’m almost positive that isn’t an exhaustive list, but you get the idea
Some of my favorite exercies
I’ve acquired a fair amount of breathing exercises through the years. Some I love and do regularly, some I like but don’t do all that often, and others I don’t do at all.
Here they are!
Deep belly breath
Starting off simple! We tend to focus our breath in our chest. there are a lot of reasons for this, one of the biggest being the societal emphasis of a flat stomach being attractive.
Keeping breath in the chest restricts each breath and makes oxygen absorption far less effective. Bringing the breath down into the belly helps this .
It is also great for a simple way to calm down.
All you do is focus on letting the breath extend down to your belly on your inhale, then expel all the air on the exhale
Some people find it helpful to have one hand on their belly and the other on their chest, that way you can feel where the breath is.
What is really happening is you are letting your diaphragm press down how it is meant to which allows more air to fill the lungs!
This is how I start many of my meditations, especially if I’m feeling a little scattered or just not in the right mind set.
I call it a cleansing breath because I think of it as getting out any anxiety, unneeded thoughts, or general negativity so I have a clean slate to start my meditation.
To do this, start with a deep belly breath in. Then exhale through the mouth as if you are fogging up a mirror, focusing on pushing out any negativity or distracting thoughts.
I do this until I feel more focused, usually three to five breaths.
When I do this exercise I find that each breath is usually deeper than the last. The last one is a final push to get everything out that I don’t need.
three part breathing
This one is sort of the upgraded version of the deep belly breath. It is helpful, especially starting out, to place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
Before beginning, think about your breath as having three levels to it: your belly, ribs, and upper chest. Take a moment to explore breathing into each of these places individually, use the placement of your hands to help feel this.
Once you have a feel for the three parts, let your breath return to normal.
Inhale, Imagining filling your belly, then your ribs, then your upper chest. Feel each one of these expand under your hand as it fills.
Exhale reversing that. Empty your upper chest first, then ribs, then belly. Make sure to empty all of the air on the exhale.
This one is great for relaxing and training your body to take full breaths. It takes practice to get used to and can be tiring so it is perfectly okay and normal if you can’t maintain it for very long at first.
This is another fairly straight forward one.
All you do is take four counts to inhale, and four to exhale. You’re giving equal time to both parts of the breath.
As you become more used to this you can increase the count as you feel comfortable.
Breathing in this way is great if you are new to breathing exercises, it’s straightforward and easy to adjust to your needs.
Equal parts with holds
In this one you give equal time to each part of the breath, as well as holding between them.
So you would inhale for four counts, hold for four, exhale for four counts, and hold for four.
Again, extend this time as you feel comfortable.
You can also give the holds a little less time if you’d like. I like to do four counts for breaths, two for holds when I’m out of practice because holding my breath for too long can stress me out.
I’ve seen this exercise in a lot of guided meditations, it can be great for relaxing the mind and body.
This is a great strategy for increasing focus as well as calming down from anxiety or stress. It is another one I usually do at the beginning of my meditations
It is important to first take a moment to just observe your breath, don’t change anything about it, just notice it. One of the goals of this exercise is to not change your breathing pattern as you count.
Once you have a sense of your own breathing pattern, start counting. I like to count ten exhales, then ten inhales and repeat for as long as I need.
This exercise is also great to use when going to sleep, I just repeat the sequence until I fall asleep. I find it helps quiet my brain that tends to be overactive at night.
Ujjayi is a type of breathing you do in yoga that restricts airflow in the back of your throat. Sounds a little weird, I know, but it can actually feel wonderful.
I’ve only done this while doing yoga or in yoga classes but plan on exploring it for other things as well.
Ujjayi helps to strengthen the diaphragm and also helps you time your breathing with your yoga flow.
This is another exercise that can be used for relaxation and focus.
To start, take your right hand and tuck in your three middle fingers so you’re making a sign language “y”.
Take your thumb and plug your right nostril, then inhale through the left for four counts. Hold for four counts as you switch to pluging your left nostril with your pinky.
Exhale through your right nostril for four counts. Then hold, again for four counts.
Keep plugging the left nostril to repeat from the other side.
Honestly, this one stresses me out like no other but some people love it. I’m pretty sure I find it stressful because I have a slightly deviated septum so I don’t breath very well through one nostril.
This is more of an energizing exercise than a relaxing one.
Start with one deep inhale, then do a sharp exhale followed by a sharp inhale, repeating the sharp breaths after that.
I find it a little easier if you focus on the exhale, usually the inhale will come naturally as a result of it.
Don’t do this for too long if you’re not used to it.
Also be cautious of this one if you are prone to panic attacks and hyper ventilating. You don’t need to avoid it, just know that it may feel like a controlled hyperventilating and be aware if you start to get panicky feelings from it.
Another energizing and very focused exercising!
This comes straight from a pilates exercise and helps engage the abdominals and work the lungs.
To do it, take five sharp inhales through the nose, then five sharp exhales through the mouth like you’re blowing out candles. Repeat 10 times for a total of 100 breaths.
But how does this apply to magic?
If you didn’t notice, a lot of these are great for use during meditation. Meditation is a huge part of my practice and many others’ as well
Aside from that, breathing exercises can be a great way to reconnect to your body gradually after magical workings
Many of them can also be used with energy work.
A lot of people use breath to send magic energies to people for varying purposes. Exercises like these can help you connect to your breath better so you are more aware of what you’re sending and how.
Having awareness and ability to manipulate your breath can lead to a lot of experimenting in your magical workings! Pick and choose what exercises to do for what and see how it goes!
Let me know if you have other exercises or ways to incorporate breath in your practice!