Library of Mind, Body, and Soul
Healing Exercises >>> Breathing

Why Breathing is Important

Breathing is the most important of all body functions because all the other functions depend upon it. The man depends on correct breathing habits for continued vitality and disease-free. Regulating the lungs is the most vital process in cleansing the human system. When one regulates the motion of the lungs through specific breathing exercises, the pores function correctly, and the tissues and cells become healthy. This is because the air we inhale helps all the systems in our body to conduct their respective functions. In controlling the motion of our lungs, we regulate the exchange in the storehouse of vital energies.

What is Natural Breathing

Proper breathing means that the breath is not shallow, jerky, or noisy and that there are no lengthy pauses between the exhalation and inhalation. Noisy breathing is a symptom of blockage or obstruction. Long pauses in the breath mean one is high-strung and has emotional blockages. Such pauses are not created when people are happy but occur when they are experiencing some agony, problem, or insecurity. There is a brief natural moment between inhalation and exhalation, but bad breathing habits should not expand it. Such a pause, if unnecessarily expanded, can be a killer; it can create coronary heart disease.

There are some simple exercises that could help us to regain our natural breathing pattern. e.g. "Even Breath", "Two-to-One Breath", "Diaphragmatic Breathing", and "Deep Breathing" as explained below. There are many other advanced breathing exercises but if done improperly and without an expert's help, then those advanced exercises can harm you irreparably. Due to this reason, this page is listing only simple exercises.

Tips before starting breathing exercises

  • Nostrils should be cleaned before doing breathing exercises
  • Do not practice advanced exercises when hungry or when the stomach is full.
  • Perform breathing exercises with head, neck, and truck in one straight line unless one is lying while doing exercises.
  • No noise in the breath; No shallowness; No jerkiness; No pause between inhalation and exhalation.

Even Breath

Concentrating on the navel center is the best way to establish even breathing. First, Exhale to the navel, and then inhale to your comfortable capacity. Then repeat that process. This will regulate your breathing. An alternative is to exhale to your toes and return to your head's crown. This will help you to make your breath even without counting – because when you count, it sometimes leads you to create a jerk or an irregularity in the breath with each digit.

Two-to-One Breath

When you are jogging or walking, learn to breathe in a manner you inhale to a count of eight and exhale to a count of sixteen. If you do that, you will not tire for a long time. If you usually can walk for only 10 miles, using this exercise, you can walk 20 or 30 miles without any tiredness. In this exercise, you do not allow the carbon dioxide waste gases to remain inside to create toxins in your body. The bowels, kidneys, lungs, and pores are the four main apertures that clean the body. If your bowels, pores, lungs, and kidneys are efficient, toxins will not build up in the body. If the body is free from toxins, then it is healthy.

Diaphragmatic Breathing (Corpse Posture)

It is necessary to practice other breathing exercises as it is part of natural/complete breathing. For example, diaphragmatic breathing expands the upper stomach during inhalation.

Technique - 1 (using Corpse Posture):

  1. Lie down on the back, feet, and arms slightly apart with palms up. You can use a pillow under your head if you need it.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Put a small sandbag on the abdomen. Usually, 12 to 15 pounds is the recommended weight to strengthen the diaphragm for adults. Once the habit is formed, using the sandbag is no longer necessary.
  4. Keeping the head, neck, and trunk aligned and the lips closed, one should exhale, allowing the abdomen to contract. Let the upper abdomen and base of the rib cage expand naturally with the inhalation. Do not create muscle blocks.

The best way to breathe diaphragmatically is to practice the crocodile posture for relaxation. This posture enables you to establish diaphragmatic breathing automatically.

Technique – 2 (using Crocodile Posture) :

  1. Lie on your stomach, place your legs at a comfortable distance apart, and point your toes in or out, whichever is more comfortable.
  2. Fold the arms in front of the body, resting the hands on the biceps.
  3. Position the arms, so the chest does not touch the floor, as pictured. Then place the forehead on the forearms.
  4. As you lie in the posture, observe the breathing. Let the breath become deep and smooth.
  5. While inhaling, feel the abdominal muscles gently press against the floor.
  6. While exhaling, feel the abdomen contract.
  7. Let the body relax completely.


  • If practiced three times a day, one will be transformed in a month, thinking differently and feeling very energetic.
  • Overall beneficial for physical and mental health.
  • Calms the mind, soothes the nervous system, and focuses the mind.
  • Strengthens the involuntary nervous system and establishes a balance between the intake and the output of the lungs.
  • Supportive for those with a slipped disc, sciatica, lower back pain, and other spinal defects.
  • Helps identify any nervous feelings you might have around your stomach area and allows relaxing that area.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep inhalation and shallow/short exhalation are extremely bad for the heart. The motion of the lungs goes through needless stress. The motion of the lungs is related to the heartbeat, and the blood supply is also related to that. The right vagus nerve, which is responsible for digestion, is also involved. So the entire system becomes irregular in its functioning.

Deep, rhythmic breathing, with inhalations and exhalations of equal duration, has been proven beneficial for blood pressure, insomnia, and heart attack. It also strengthens the nervous system and leads to voluntary regulation of the respiratory system. This is the secret of a healthy body and a sound mind.

Deep Breathing Exercise (Standing):

  1. After morning ablutions, stand firmly in a calm, quiet and airy room (with windows open), preferably in the open air.
  2. Exhale through nostrils, keeping the head, neck, and trunk erect.
  3. Try to keep the body as motionless as possible except for the motion of the stomach muscles and chest that are involved in deep breathing.
  4. Apply the root lock by contracting the sphincter muscles of the rectum and pulling them inwards and upwards.
  5. Exhale through nostrils smoothly, without exertion or sound.
  6. Having exhaled completely, do not pause but start inhaling deeply through the nostrils. Inhalation should be equal to exhalation.
  7. Do this about ten times every morning for at least two months.

Deep Breathing Exercise (Lying):

  1. Lie on the back with the feet a comfortable distance apart and the arms along the sides of the body, palms up.
  2. Gently close the eyes and place the hands on the upper abdomen, between the rib cage and the navel, to feel the muscles' movement.
  3. Inhale and exhale through nostrils slowly, smoothly, and deeply. There should be no noise, jerks, or pauses in the breath. Inhalation and exhalation should be of equal duration.
  4. Exaggerating the normal breathing process, consciously pull in the abdominal muscles while exhaling. Aspirants who struggle to practice this diaphragmatic movement may use their hands to push in the abdominal muscles when exhaling gently. When inhaling, be aware of the abdominal wall pushing out. In addition, there should be a slight movement of the chest.
  5. Practice this deep breathing method for 3 to 5 minutes daily.

Alternate breathing (Channel Purification)

It is a breathing exercise that purifies subtle energy channels and is highly beneficial to the nervous system and overall physical and mental health. If the student practices this exercise for 5-10 minutes three times a day, his emotional life will become balanced, and his nervous system will be purified.

  1. Sit in a calm, quiet, airy place in an easy and steady posture.
  2. Keep the head, neck, and trunk straight and the body still.
  3. Bring the right hand up to the nose. The index finger and middle finger should be folded so that the right thumb can be used to close the right nostril, and the ring finger can be used to close the left nostril.
  4. Close the right nostril with the right thumb. Exhale completely through the left nostril. Exhalation should be slow, controlled, and free from exertion and jerks.
  5. At the end of the exhalation, close the left nostril with the ring finger, open the right nostril and inhale slowly and thoroughly. Inhalation and exhalation should be of equal duration.
  6. Repeat this cycle of exhalation with the left nostril and inhalation with the right nostril two more times.
  7. At the end of the third inhalation through the right nostril, exhale completely through the same nostril, still keeping the left nostril closed with the ring finger.
  8. At the end of the exhalation, close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale through the left nostril.
  9. Repeat the exhalation cycle through the right nostril and inhalation through the left nostril two more times. This completes the exercise.
  10. To sum up, the exercise consists of the following:
    • Three cycles of exhalation through the left nostril and inhalation through the right nostril.
    • Three cycles of exhalation through the right nostril and inhalation through the left nostril.
  11. In the evening, the exercise consists of the following:
    • Three cycles of exhalation through the right nostril and inhalation through the left nostril.
    • Three cycles of exhalation through the left nostril and inhalation through the right nostril.


  • It should be done at least twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.
  • Both inhalation and exhalation are of equal duration and are slow, controlled, and free from jerks and any sense of exertion. With time, gradual lengthening of the duration of inhalation and exhalation should be attempted.

Ocean (Ujjayi) Breath

It soothes the nerves and calms the mind. It oxygenates the blood and balances the male and female energies in the body. It also stimulates circulation and metabolism and increases concentration.

  1. Sit in a stable posture with the head, neck, and trunk erect.
  2. Place the bottom of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. The tip of your tongue points toward the back of the mouth, as far back as it can go without strain.
  3. Exhale completely.
  4. Now, breathe in slowly and deeply through the nostrils. The incoming air should be felt on the roof of the palate and should make a soft, continuous, sobbing sound. This is most easily done by mentally repeating the Soo……ooooo during the in-breath. The abdomen should be slightly contracted during the inhalation.
  5. Now, exhale the air slowly through the nostrils without pause. The outgoing air should also be felt on the roof of the palate and should also be audible. This sound is best achieved by mentally repeating the sound Humm…….mm during the out-breath.
  6. This completes one cycle of ocean breath. It may be repeated for about 5 minutes.

Other Advanced Breathing Exercises

There are many other advanced breathing exercises, but one should only do those with the expert's guidance. e.g. Kapalabhati, Bhastrika, Breath Retention etc. If done improperly, these advanced exercises can harm him irreparably.

Further Reading:
  • Breathing By Boyan Boev
  • Respiration Spiritual Dimensions and Practical Applications By Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov
  • Science of Breath By Swami Ramacharaka
  • The 10 Tibetan Breaths By Edwin J Dingle