It is estimated that we only use about one third of our total breathing capacity. This is due to the twin evils of poor posture and a sedentary lifestyle.  This means that we only take in one third of the prana or life force present in the atmosphere. Could it be that our lives are only a third of what they would be if we were living at our full potential? Now there’s a frightening thought!

The following breathing exercise allows you to practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing without any restraints or controls. The raising of the arms mimics the action of floodgates opening to allow water flow into a plain. The slower you move your arms, the more air and prana you will allow into your lungs. As you exhale, you lower the arms slowly to the ground again. In the second part of the exercise, you can also raise the hips on inhalation allowing you to breathe in even more fully. The  main thing is to move very slowly and always in tandem with the breath.

  • Lie on your mat with your knees bent and hip-width apart. You now need to lengthen your neck. Clasping your hands around the back of the head, gently lift it up off the floor. Supporting your head with your hands, slowly slide the hands over the back of the head feeling the neck lengthen as you do so. When the fingers reach the crown of the head, carefully place the back of your head back down on your mat again.
  • Place your arms lying down by your sides.
  • Focus for a moment on the parts of the body in contact with the floor: the soles of the feet, the lower back, the upper back, the arms and the back of the head. Each time you exhale, allow these parts of the body to settle into your mat.
  • Lift your right shoulder off the floor. Inhaling, broaden it out to the side as far as possible. Exhaling, lower it down on to the mat again. Repeat on left side.
  • Opening your eyes as wide as possible, look up at the ceiling. Then look down at the tip of the nose, and slowly draw the eyelids down over the eyes.
  • Inhale slowly through the nose, and then exhale deeply through the mouth with a long sigh.
  • Go back to breathing in and out through the nose and continue to  observe the breath for a few moments.
  • The next time you breathe in, slowly take the arms overhead (palms facing), and place them on the floor behind you. As you begin to exhale, slowly, take the arms back over the head and rest them on the floor. Continue in this way for 6 breaths moving very slowly. Think of the floodgates opening and closing to control the flow of water.
  • If you wish for the next 6 breaths, as well as raising the arms, also lift the hips off the floor on inhalation. As you exhale, lower both the arms and the hips back down again onto the floor. Work slowly and gently.
  • Afterwards, lie quietly on your mat and rest for a few moments before coming back up to sitting.