Three Steps to Breathing – and Living! – On Purpose

If you want to live bigger and better, with more energy and enthusiasm, vim and vigor, all you need to do is…breathe.

Your breathing practice can be as simple as 10 deep, complete breaths in the morning when you first wake up.

If you integrate conscious, focused breathing with your physical exercise, you are furthering your mastery of your breathing…AND transforming your exercise sessions into something a whole lot more powerful and beneficial.

And, if you invest a little time in learning various types of breathing techniques, you will have a tool and a resource you can use to enhance your health, improve your stamina and power, and increase your mental focus and clarity.

Unfortunately, most people don’t even bother with the first step: doing some deep breathing every day.

An even smaller percentage get to steps 2 and 3.

You may think you don’t have the time to learn such things. Or you may be concerned that, in order to correctly perform breathing exercises, you have to be at a certain level of physical fitness.

Perhaps you’re worried you will have to twist your body into contorted positions or chant or something.

I’m not making this up! These are objections I have actually heard from people.

This is part of what motivated me to make proper breathing instruction and breathing exercises more accessible to people, including those who may not be interested in doing yoga or learning chi kung or tai chi, but would still like the benefits of such practices.

A lot of information on breathing and energy practices make it all seem so esoteric and so mysterious that you need a degree in Chinese medicine, or advanced abilities as a yogi, to fully understand and benefit.

Not so!

The first, very accessible step, is to learn a few basic techniques.

Then apply your breathing skills to every day situations, such as: exercising; sitting in traffic; sitting in a boring meeting; relaxing and calming yourself before bedtime.

Here’s an excellent question from a Dear Reader:

Hey Karen,

I faithfully practice outside every morning. I’m a very recently retired Personal Trainer, but proper breathing is something I’ve ignored over the years, other than when a client was lifting a weight. My question is – When I inhale, how long do I hold the breath? Or is it simply, like yoga, as long as I’m feeling comfortable?

I want to thank you for the updates. They really help.


KVN: Thanks for your question, Al. And great to hear that you do your exercises outside every morning. It’s a great way to start the day, isn’t it?

Now, in answer to your question: it depends.

It depends on your purpose for the breathing exercises you are doing.

At a very basic level, breathing techniques can be grouped into ones that help open up and relax your breathing spaces, and help you get grounded and centered.

Other techniques help to balance your breathing. Still others are used to increase breath control, lung power, and the generation of power, such as techniques used to increase power and speed in the martial arts.

You can find a rational, effective progression of these types of breathing exercises and techniques in the Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volumes 1 and 2. (And you can take advantage of a special price and extra bonus when you order both programs together. For details, please go to the Dynamic Energy Exercise Course page.)

When you hold your breath for longer than 4 to 8 seconds, you are using breath retention techniques.

Hindu and Taoist masters developed breath locks, or “bandas” to help improve their ability to retain their breath for longer and longer periods of time.

This was done, in part, as a meditative aid.

Breath retention techniques are also used to help develop breath control and internal power. These types of techniques are practiced in traditional martial arts to develop maximum power and focus in the practitioners’ strikes and kicks, as well as make the practitioner more resistant – or even impervious – to blows from their opponent.

For your own breath practice, you should perform most breathing techniques as Al described: be comfortable in your breathing.

This means getting into and maintaining a rhythm of inhalation and exhalation, and letting the pauses between the inhale and exhale occur naturally.

The main thing is to balance your inhalation and exhalation.

For example, an excellent rhythm that works well for most people is 4:2:4:2. In other words, inhale for 4, hold for 2, exhale for 4, hold for 2.

You can do multiples of these to extend your breathing. So, you could inhale for 8, hold for 4, exhale for 8, hold for 4. You get the picture.

If your goal is to develop better breath control, you can add breath retention exercises into the mix. Generally speaking, you should do some balanced breathing first, as a warm up.

Then move into breath holding, performing 5 to 10 repetitions of each exercise.

Here, you should push yourself a little bit. Not to the point that you are gasping for air when you finally breathe. But gradually, over time, extend your hold on the inhale or exhale.

For an excellent workout, add dynamic tension to your breath holding, as well as exhalations against resistance. You will work up a sweat in no time!

You Can Do It!



“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2012

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