Updated: Aug 13, 2021
You may have read my prior post on expanding the breath. If so, you are beginning to notice the difference between your "normal" everyday breathing pattern and an expanded breathing pattern that comes with focus.
Now, we are going to take things one step further. After reading through this post, you will understand the four distinct parts to each breath. You will also have an exercise to focus on each of these four parts.
When you are ready, find your comfortable seat.
The Space Between the Breath
Draw your focus to your expanded inhalation and exhalation. Complete 3-5 rounds of breath.
On your next breath cycle, draw your focus to the space between your inhalation and exhalation. After you inhale, pause. Hold the air in your lungs for a few seconds. Then proceed with your exhalation. When all the air is out of your lungs, pause for a few seconds. Then proceed with the next inhalation.
You have just experienced the "space between the breath". The pauses between your inhalation and exhalation comprise the other two parts to a full breath cycle. A "full" breath cycle is comprised of: inhalation, retention, exhalation, retention. As you pay attention to the space between the breath, try to expand these portions of each breath cycle.
Inhale to a count of 5
Pause for a count of 2
Exhale to a count of 6
Pause for a count of 2
Inhale and begin the next breath cycle.
B.K.S Iyengar is quoted in Light on Life "Breath is the vehicle of consciousness and so, by its slow measured observation and distribution, we learn to tug our attention away from external desires toward a judicious, intelligent awareness.”
Becoming more aware of your breath, and in particular paying attention to all four parts of our breath is an important key to mindfulness.
Why Is This Breath Work Useful? When Should it be Practiced?
Breath work, specifically this four part breath is calming for the body and mind. By helping the body to relax, this breath work will help to mitigate the effects of stress on the body.
This four part breath is also extremely beneficial to the lungs. It helps to improve lung elasticity, which improves the effectiveness of each breath.
Practice during times of stress, before meditating, before bedtime.