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Take a Deep Breath… 5 Minute Breathing Exercises to Calm, Restore and Energize

Take a Deep Breath… 5 Minute Breathing Exercises to Calm, Restore and Energize

Future Present Wellness has curated breath control practices (pranayama) to ease during times of imbalance in the mind and body. These practices are derived from Ayurveda — the sister science to Yoga.

Each practice can effectively change the state of mind and body into calmness or energise the nervous system within a very brief time of 5 minutes.

By understanding your physical and energetic constitution called Dosha we can choose the right type of practice for ourselves.

Getting to know and appreciate your Dosha Vata, Pita, and Kapha is key to knowing yourself. It provides clues for what you should eat and what things you should address when your energy gets out of whack. The more you know about what may cause certain reactions or tendencies to external factors, the easier it will be to balance them.

To find out what kind of Dosha you are, you can do this short quiz here.

Otherwise use this short handy guide below, to decipher what pranayama practice you can apply.

VATA TYPES

For Vata types, we often need to infuse a bit of structure to our day to build layered awareness and stronger boundaries, even though this may be something we naturally resist. 

Vata types are governed by Air and Space, these qualities are dynamic, adaptable to change, creative, adventurous and light-hearted. 

TIP: Try moving through the day more slowly, observing where your energy is going – focusing on the present moment and taking pause for rest when needed.

When Vata is out of balance they can be feeling:

  • Anxious
  • Overwhelmed
  • Over-thinking
  • Over-stimulated
  • Worried
  • Forgetful
  • Scattered
  • Loss of concentration

Breath technique to balance Vata.

Calm Your Nerves 

Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) is a practice used to move our vital breath

(prana) through the channels (nadis) of the body. This is a practice that helps balance and  grounds the nervous system. A super efficient tool that can transform one’s state from fear to ease in 5 minutes.

Benefits of Alternate-Nostril breathing

  • Activating the parasympathetic (rest & digest) nervous system
  • Improves our ability to focus the mind by re-balancing irregular brain waves
  • Stimulates the vagus nerve: Settles the mind, body, and emotions
  • Reduced cortisol levels (cortisol which leads to stress and anxiety)
  • Improves fine-motor coordination/performance
  • It enhances respiratory functions: increases respiratory strength and endurance
  • Restores balance in the left and right hemispheres of the brain 
  • Removes toxins
  • Reduces blood pressure

When to do this technique?

  • Before a meditation practice 
  • When experiencing anxiety/stress 
  • Or having trouble falling asleep

Note: This is a safe practice for those that are pregnant

HOW TO PRACTICE ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING

1/ GETTING STARTED & HAND POSITION: Sit in a comfortable upright position with relaxed

shoulders, neck and jaw. Raise your right hand and create peace fingers with your index and middle finger, placing these fingers on your forehead. You will alternate between using your right thumb to close your right nostril and your right ring finger to close the left nostril. Left hand is resting on your left knee.

2/ ALTERNATE BREATHING
RIGHT SIDE BREATH: Now use the ring finger to gently close off the left nostril —

Inhale, Imagine the energy moving upward along your right side of the body. Pause. 

Close right nostril.

LEFT SIDE BREATH: Use your right thumb to close your right nostril. Exhale gently and fully

through the left nostril. With the right nostril still closed — inhale, through the left nostril, deep into the belly. 

Surrendering breath — exhale out the right nostril and down the right side of the body. Pause.

3/ COMPLETE FIRST ROUND:
Keeping the left nostril closed, inhale once again through the

right nostril. Pause. Then again use the right thumb to close the right nostril as you release the

left nostril, exhaling completely. Pause.

4/ REPEAT:
Repeat for several more rounds (about 5 minutes), focusing on the path of prana,

cleansing all the nerves along the way. When complete, relax both hands on your knees and take a few full, deep breaths through both nostrils.

PITTA TYPES 

For Pitta types, they are known for being ambitious, hard-working, disciplined, dependable, and wise, but you may sometimes feel like your iron will or your competitive nature win out over other aspects of who you are.

Pitta are governed by Fire and Water, these qualities are hot, oily, light, and sharp, can fuel the fire and when out of balance can lead to burn-out. 

TIP: Try cultivating quiet-self worth, don’t ignore the needs of your body in favor of satisfying the raw sense of ambition and the desire to be productive.

When Pitta is out of balance they can be feeling:

  • Irritated
  • Frustrated
  • Angry
  • Judgemental
  • Impatient
  • Burnt-out
  • Hot-tempered
  • Excessively controlling

Breath technique to balance Pitta

Soothing Cool Aid

Cooling Breath Sitali has the opposite qualities, so it cools and calms the excess Pitta. Sitali Breath is best for the summer season of Pitta or anytime you find yourself heated-up, wound-up or with a little acidity and indigestion.

Benefits of Sitali Breathing

  • Calms the nervous system, 
  • Reduce anger and agitation
  • Lowers body temperature
  • Reduces hot flushes
  • Aids in digestion
  • Quenches thirst,
  • Adds moisture to the body

Note: 

Be careful if you suffer from untreated low blood pressure. If you start feeling dizzy or nauseous stop the practice. Avoid practicing during the cooler weather or if you have a cold constitution.

HOW TO PRACTICE SITALI

  • 1/ GETTING STARTED & HAND POSITION
  • Sit in a comfortable position with the head, neck, and spine in alignment.
  • 2/ RELAX THE BELLY
  • Close your eyes, breathe through the abdominal area for several minutes, relaxing the belly with each breath. Then open the mouth and form the lips into an “O.”
  • 3/ INHALE THROUGH TONGUE
  • Curl the tongue lengthwise and project it out of the mouth (about 3/4 of an inch).
  • Inhale deeply across the tongue and into the mouth as if drinking through a straw.
  • Focus your attention on the cooling sensation of the breath as the abdomen and lower ribs expand. Establish a relaxing, calming rhythm.
  • 4/ EXHALE THROUGH NOSE
  • Withdraw the tongue and close the mouth, exhaling completely through the nostrils. Notice the increased clarity, coolness, and spaciousness in body and mind.

5/ REPEAT

  • Repeat steps three and four for 3 – 5 minutes or longer. Gradually you can work your way up to a 10-minute practice.

KAPHA TYPES 

For Kapha types they often need permission to do something just for themselves. When in balance, Kaphas are graceful, gentle, loving, loyal, and tolerant, with a calm and steady mind. They have an inherent ability to enjoy life and are comfortable with routine. 

Kaphas are governed by earth and water, making our energetics slow and steady, enticing others to take advantage in grounding and building stamina.

TIP: If you may be feeling sluggish, notice if the food you are eating has impacted your mood. A short walk around the block is better than amping up with another coffee.

When Kapha is out of balance they can be feeling:

  • Dull
  • Inert
  • Needy
  • Attached / Stubborn
  • Foggy
  • Over-protected
  • Complacent
  • Resistant to change
  • Demotivated

Breath technique to balance Kapha

Radiant Power-Up 

Bhastrika (Bellows Breath) has the opposite qualities, to stimulate, warm, and lift the excess Kapha. Bhastrika helps increase the graceful flow of vitality through the body’s energy channels (nadis). It also helps to remove excess congestion in the lungs and brighten the mind. 

Note: Avoid Bhastrika during pregnancy, or if you have high-blood pressure, heart or respiratory conditions. Do not practice Bhastrika if you have uncontrolled hypertension, epilepsy, seizures, or panic disorder. This breathing technique is meant to be done on an empty stomach. Have a tissue handy in case excess mucus is loosened. 

This practice is a more advanced technique than called Skull Shining Breath (Kapalabhati)  and may need the assistance of a teacher to perform properly.

HOW TO PRACTICE BELLOWS BREATH

  • 1/ GETTING STARTED & HAND POSITION

Establish a comfortable seat with a tall spine and hands resting on your lap. 

Eyes can stay open to begin, eventually close the eyes focusing on the tip of your nose. Soften and relax the jaw and facial muscles. 

  • 2/ INHALE THROUGH NOSE

Though the nose, inhale deeply, flaring the ribs open. Ensure the belly is expanding outwards on the inhale.

  • 3/ EXHALE THROUGH NOSE

Exhale fully, as the lungs deflate, emptying the entire capacity, moving the belly towards the spine as you exhale. 

Feel the air in the throat as you breath it in and out of the nostrils..

  • 4/ INCREASE PACE

Start inhaling and exhaling rapidly with equal proportions on the inhale and exhale.

  • 5/ REPEAT, BUILDING A STEADY PACE
  • Keep the breath connected starting from 1-2 minutes and work your way to 5 minutes. Notice the warmth, lightness, and stimulation of Bhastrika.

Benefits to Bhastrika breath:

  • Stimulates digestion by activating the abdominal region
  • It’s extremely energizing, banishing away sleepiness and fogginess
  • The exaggerated exhalations expel carbon dioxide and increases oxygen in the body
  • Detoxify, and strengthen and clear the respiratory system

Illustrations and article by Terri Bertakis

To read learn more about Yoga, and Meditation visit Future Present Wellness here:

Website futurepresentwellness.com.au

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