breathing exercise, wave breathing, circular breathing, pratilom yoga

Breathing Exercise: Continuous or Wave Breathing

When we create involuntary pauses either at the inhale or exhale our awareness is also interrupted and broken. Hence a smooth, continuous breath is most the valuable tool for bringing the mind to the present moment or focussing it on a particular point. And a very useful method to develop awareness and interrupted flow of consciousness on the object of meditation.

We will begin just like before, come to the edge of your chair or sofa such that the soles of your feet and thighs are parallel to the floor or sit crossed legged on floor either with back as straight as possible and look forward, with a relaxed gaze without focusing on any particular object. Take a few deep breaths, calmly inhale and exhale a few times.

Just taking this moment to pull the awareness back from all the activities and thoughts to the sensations of breathing. Now focusing the attention on the pauses between inhalation and exhalation. And we will try to negate those by smoothly merging the in-breath into the out-breath and out-breath into inbreath. Smoothly and gently in a wave-like fashion. Feel each inbreath as a wave slowly emerging and arising from a cosmic ocean of breath and each out-breath as a wave slowly merging back into the ocean. As if reminding us of our sacred nature and the intrinsic unity of all things in the Universe.

The wave breathing

This is expressed eloquently in a verse of Isha Upanishad as follows:

“vāyuranilamamṛtamathedaṃ bhasmāntaṃ śarīram

krato smara kritaṃ smara”

Roughly translated as:

“Remember! O Self! Do Thou elatedly remember!

This breath is part of the Cosmic air;

To this body, the cloak of thy Spirit,

Ashes are the end.”

Now I want you to notice that whenever you are interrupted by thoughts or noises, you may create involuntary pauses and interruptions. So, it’s a bilateral tie, the interruptions in the flow of breath causes interruptions in concentration but interruption in concentration also interrupts the breath.

Therefore, we will try to negate even tiny bits of the interruptions by merging the in-breath into out-breath and out-breath into in-breath as we have known that both rise and settle into the same source.

So, the breathing becomes from square to circular. We will use this verse (4.29 loosely translated) from the Bhagavad Gita to aid in visualisation, which says:

“Offering in-breath into out-breath and out-breath into in-breath,

In this way controlling and merging both, the yoga of breath is practiced. “

Due to this, the particular method is also called circular breathing. Practicing 3 rounds of continuous breath each consisting of 30 breaths, each 8 sec long (4 sec inhale and 4 second exhale) every day will give great physical benefits and stress relief, get rid off mental chatter and agitation; and improves concentration and experience of meditation. You can add two second to the breath each week (increasing each inhalation and exhalation by 1 second) until you achieve 1-minute long breath (30 sec inhalation and 30 sec exhalation).

I also call it soothing breath because the whole body and mind experience a sense of calm and serenity. And the throat feeling soothing or cooling sensation. In the beginning. It is a great method to practice for stress relief or for unwinding in the evening or to practice before meditation or to balance the heat and strain induced by square breathing.

Note: In the beginning, it may be easier to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, in order to get that wave-like or circular feeling. 

Let me know in the comments how does the wave breathing feel to you, also feel free to leave your questions, if you have. As always if you loved this practice, share it with your loved ones or social media so others can benefit from this too. Peace ✌🕊

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