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BREATHWORK 101

Updated: May 8

What is Breathwork?


Breathwork is an active breathing meditation that uses a repetitive breath pattern to flush the body with oxygen. This breathing pattern allows you to drop into an altered state and clear stuck energy in the body. Participants commonly express experiencing a release (both emotional and physical) and heightened clarity and focus after a session.


Breathing moves our energy, so we can access the level of clarity that helps us connect to our true essence, our spirit, as well as to others. With this practice, we can accelerate our healing, our growth, our purpose, and find passion in our day-to-day life.


I’ve been practicing yogic breathwork and breathing techniques as taught by Stanislav Grof, MD, PhD, for several years. Learning to use the power of my own breath to clear, heal and empower every aspect of my life is why I am called to share these accessible and life changing practices with as many humans as possible.




Three-Part Breath

Sanskrit: Durga Pranayama


  1. Place one hand on the belly and one hand on the heart/chest.

  2. Exhale completely.

  3. INHALE through the belly, ribcage, upper chest.

  4. EXHALE, upper chest, ribcage, belly.

  5. COntinue for 5-10 rounds, or as long as you’d like.


→ Benefits of Three-Part Breath:

  • Maintains blood pressure

  • Improves and balances organ function

  • Expands the lungs, lung capacity, and improves circulation

  • Stimulates the vagus nerve, soothing the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing you to a state of relaxation


→ Precautions of Three-Part Breath:

  • None



Alternate Nostril Breathing

Sanskrit: Anuloma Viloma Pranayama


  1. Sit comfortably in a seated meditation posture, keeping the neck and spine long.

  2. Right hand in Vishnu mudra (bend the index and middle fingers down towards palm, extend the other fingers).

  3. Left hand can be facing up or down on the left knee or in Chin mudra (connect the thumb and forefinger).

  4. Take a full breath in, bring the right hand to the face and close the right nostril with your right thumb


INHALE Slowly through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with your ring finger and 

open the right nostril 


EXHALE Through the right nostril until the lungs are empty.


INHALE Through the right nostril. Close the right nostril with your thumb.


EXHALE Through the left nostril until the lungs are empty.


→ This is ONE ROUND


Repeat 5-10 rounds. For personal practice, increase the rounds over time and aim to practice for 20-30 minutes. Start and end with the LEFT nostril (your yin side). 


→ Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing:

  • Restorative breath

  • Balances the energetic system (left side/right side, feminine/masculine, yin/yang)

  • Improves oxygen supply

  • Purifies the blood

  • Boosts the immune system

  • Develops concentration

  • Focuses the mind for meditation


→ Precautions of Alternate Nostril Breathing:

  • None



Shining Skull Breath

Sanskrit: Kapalabhati Kriya


→ Relaxed/natural inhale, forced/active exhale, both through the nose


  1. Find a comfortable seat. 

  2. Bring hands to knees in Chin mudra (connect the thumb and forefinger), or with one hand on the abdomen.

  3. Engage your root chakra, the mulabandha (located at the perineum). 

  4. Take a deep, full cleansing inhale, followed by an exhale.

  5. Inhale and fill the lungs to  ¾ capacity

  6. Exhale forcefully/actively, pumping the abdomen back towards the spine, forcing air out the nose.

  7. Allow the inhale to be relaxed and focus on the exhalation.

  8. Continue this breath for 30-50 counts for 2-3 rounds.

  9. At the end of each round, exhale all of the air out of the lungs, pause at the bottom of the exhale releasing any stale air.   

  10. Inhale fully, exhale fully

  11. Re-engage your mulabandha/root chakra, inhale ¾ capacity and being the next round.


→ Benefits of Shining Skull Pranayama:

  • Purifies the blood

  • Relieves asthma and sinus problems

  • Increases blood supply to the frontal portion of the brain

  • Tones the digestive system, diaphragm, and abdominal muscles

  • Cleanses the brain and the respiratory system (reducing phlegm)

  • Improves the expulsion of carbon dioxide and the absorption of oxygen


→ Precautions of Shining Skull Pranayama:

  • Headaches

  • Constipation

  • Hernia or recent surgery

  • Should not be practiced during pregnancy

  • Those with high blood pressure should practice slowly and without retention of the breath



Box Breath

Try this simple box breathing tool: ⠀

❂ INHALE for 4 counts⠀

❂ HOLD for 4 counts ⠀

❂ EXHALE for 4 counts⠀

❂ HOLD for 4 counts ⠀

↳ Repeat⠀

Try it for 5 rounds or for 5 minutes (or bonus cleansing and clarity, go longer!) 



2-Part Breathwork for Clarity/Good Mood

Inhale and exhale through the mouth

Forced inhale and relaxed exhale


Inhale + Exhale 10 times

Hold your breath for 10 seconds on the 10th exhale


Inhale + Exhale 20 times

Hold your breath for 20 seconds on the 20th exhale


Inhale + Exhale 30 times

Hold your breath for as long as you can on the 30th exhale


When completed with all 3 rounds (or however many rounds you choose), sit/lie down with your eyes closed and feel the sensations. What do you feel? Where do you feel it? Do you feel calm? Less anxiety? Journal about your experiences so you can recall and watch your breathwork experience grow while also looking back to see what connections you make with the different practice sessions.


With love,

Brie


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