How do I breathe?

breath image

If you can’t make it to the first week back, you may like to have a go at the following inquiry… Quite a bit of our work this term will be influenced by Donna Farhi’s “The Breathing Book”.  This exercise is adapted from the book.

You will need a scrap of paper to write down the questions below to prompt your observations.  You will also need a timer, watch with second hand or your mobile phone set up for timing close by so you don’t have to get up.

Lie on the back of the body – semi supine with the knees bent is best.  Have your prompt words and the timer nearby.  Spend about 6 to 10 breaths focused on each question.

1 Where do you feel the movement of your breath? Rest one hand on the abdomen below the navel and the other on your breast bone in the centre of your chest.  Is it in the lower or upper part of your body?  Place the hands down by the sides now.

2 Where is the breaths origin? Is there a point in your body that the ‘swell’ of the breath comes from?  Can you notice a ‘wave’ effect through your torso?

3 Is your breath fast or slow?  Using the timer, count the number of breaths you take in one minute.  (12 -14 is considered ‘normal’)

4 Are the inhale and exhale equal?  In length, effort or quality?

5 What is the texture of your breathing like?  Is it smooth, even, jerky, noisy, whistly, soft, hard?  What words best describe your breathing?

6 How deeply do you breath?  You may not have the need to breath deeply in this restful position.  Try now to deepen your breath a little – not too much – what effect does this have on your body?  How does this make you feel?

7 What is the quality of your breath like?  Does it feel laboured, billowing, like the Sahara?  What image does your breath bring into your mind?

8 How does your breath feel in other parts of your body?  Take a trip from the toes right up to the hairs on your head; what does your breath feel like in those parts?


This is not a time for judging yourself.  Simply observe bearing in mind each question.

Allow yourself a few minutes to rest after the exercise.  Relax completely, allowing your body to melt down into the mat.  When you feel ready to, come up to sitting in the usual way.  If you wish to, write down your observations next to the questions on your piece of paper.


Published by yogadeb

Yoga teacher in Stamford, UK, and online

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