Breath is life: when the breathing process ceases, life is quickly extinguished. Yet we take breathing very much for granted. According to yogic tradition, life expectancy is related to the frequency of breathing. The Gheranda Samhita, a yogic source book of the mediaeval period, states, that: “decreasing the frequency of breath, increases the life energy, and that the body of a person practicing regulation of breath becomes harmoniously developed, emits sweet scent and becomes strong and beautiful.”

Here is a natural, subtle yet powerful technique which will help you to develop an intimate relation with your breath, decrease breath frequency and integrate your body, mind and being.

· Please sit back in your chair
· Remove your shoes and place your two feet flat on the floor,
· Spread your feet apart the same distance as the width of your shoulders.
· Place your heels directly under your knees
· Make sure your knees do not tilt in or out
· Place your right hand on your belly, and your left hand on your chest.
· Close your eyes,
· Relax your jaw, allowing a small gap between your lips, and between your upper and lower teeth.
You will see that your mouth will tend to close unconsciously when you will divert your attention from it… when you notice that, invite it to open again.
Listen to your breath:

· Can you feel your right hand moving out and in with the belly as you breathe in and out?
· Can you feel any movement under the left hand on your chest that would indicate that your chest bone is rising and falling with your breath?
· Where do you sense more movement? In the belly? In the chest?
· Which moves first? The belly or the chest?
· Feel the contact of your back with your chair rest. Can you detect any sensation of expansion and contraction in your back when you breathe?

In good breathing, the belly moves out on the in breath, and in on the out breath, The chest bone moves forward and up … The lungs expand in all dimensions: forward, backward, upwards into the space between shoulder, collar bone, neck and shoulder blade, and downwards towards the stomach and liver… Please come to sit at the forward edge of your chair. Keeping your back as erect as you can comfortably. Whenever you feel you need to rest, simply sit back in your chair once again.

Bring your hands to the sides of your chest, and place them lightly on your lower ribs, your small floating ribs above your waist Let your hands assume the shape of your body in this area. Can you feel that your lower ribs expand sideways as you breathe in, and contract inward as you breath out?

In this area of the respiratory system, we actually have the greatest potential of movement, because the lower ribs are not attached to the chest bone in front.

Breathe normally, in and out of your open mouth, and feel the movement of expansion and contraction of the lower ribs underneath your hands Gradually begin to get a feeling for the relative lengths of the in breath and the out breath:
· Which part of the breath cycle is longer at this moment?
· Do the in breath and out breath happen continuously?
· Do you sense a gap between inhale and exhale - when you no longer breath in, but have not yet begun to breathe out?
· Can you sense another gap, after the exhale, before the next inhale?

When next you feel your lungs full of air, please do not exhale. Retain the breath. Hold the air inside you, for as long as you can without strain, for as long as you can comfortably. Not to your limit… So that when you breathe out, you don’t explode, but you can actually breath out slowly and continuously, having the intention of making the out breath last forever… How to do this?

What you can do is create a small hole between your lips, and breath out of your lips in a fine stream of air, as if you were whistling… Or if you are a smoker, as you would tend to do when you slowly exhale the fine stream of smoke…relishing that sensation… Focus on the out breath, on making it last longer each time. Even when you feel you have finished breathing out, breath out a little more… And wait… wait for the next generous in breath which will happen on its own, filling the space you have created… and wait again, with your lungs full, Retaining the breath, imagine that fresh oxygen can reach, cleanse and nourish every cell of your body… Slowly breath out again, focusing on the sensation of the fine continuous stream of air flowing out of the small hole in between you lips, … breathing out a little more… creating more space inside… waiting… for the next even more generous in breath… Holding the air in your lungs for as long as you can comfortably, Noticing that with each breath it becomes easier to retain the breath comfortably for a longer time….

Continue to breath in this way, counting 18 breath cycles… Focusing on the out breath, on how to make it last longer and breathing out a bit more than what you think you can…. Waiting for the wave of the in breath to fill you lungs, retaining the breath, comfortably, allowing time for the oxygen to reach, cleanse and nourish every cell of your body… Breathing out slowly and continuously, making the out breath last forever…

· By the way, can you feel the movement of your diaphragm, the parachute-like sheet of muscle lying between your lungs and abdomen? You need to learn to feel and discover your ability to master the movement of your diaphragm, the motor of the breath… essential for good digestive functioning, for good posture, for stamina and vitality. We will explore this movement in depth in one of our future breath sessions. This technique may also be used as a wonderful replacement for the smoking habit, as it provides the bodymind consciously and naturally with the same gratification that smoking does unconsciously, without the harmful side effects: Deeper breathing, breath retention, lip stimulation, and longer exhalation.

When you have completed 18 cycles, get up slowly, walk around, and notice how you feel: more than likely you will find yourself in a meditative, relaxed state: maybe even buoyant, energized and receptive. I invite you to share your experience of this breathing technique with me.

Contributed by Judith Or Amit - Feldenkrais practitioner, body worker, author of “Back to Yourself - A Healthy Back in 21 days”: an audio program for body awareness and self-healing. Judith offers personal consultation, treatment and group training. For more information, please visit her website:

Author's Bio: 

The above is 1 of 10 sessions of "Awareness Through Movement" - sesnory-motor practices for prevention and treatment of RSI and musculo-skeletal disorders, reduction & elimination of stress, tension and pain available (also as mp3 audiofiles) from "Creative Minds Intelligent Body Care Solutions" Contributed by Judith Or Amit - Feldenkrais practitioner, body worker, author of “Back to Yourself - A Healthy Back in 21 days”: an audio program for body awareness and self-healing. For more information, please visit her website: