“Breath is Life” Video Series
If you live near an ocean then practicing Ocean Breathing may come naturally for you. For those who have never or rarely experienced the visual expanse, the engulfing rhythmical sounds of a vast ocean, this Ocean Breathing technique can bring you to the same incredible sense of peace and wellbeing. Ocean Breathing is founded in the ancient tradition of Yoga Pranayama, “prana” meaning life force & “yama” meaning control. In essence, to be aware of and in control of one’s own breath is also to have breathing free of stress or irregularity, bringing one’s self to a state of mastery over one’s own life force. Less effect or distraction by outside influence allows a greater capacitance to wondrous achievements and success in every area of living. Breathing is essential to life. One could say, “breath is life.” Approximately 22,000 breaths a day are necessary to live. Not much else in our body needs something at that intensity as air. The body can survive on four eight ounce glasses of pure water drank periodically through a day and function on as little as 1100 to 800 calories consumed off and on over hours. Breathing however will not wait to happen occasionally or after a few hours. Good air has nitrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen. The three air components are very necessary for our survival. Ocean Breathing is considered the breath of activity and victory. Success in Ocean Breathing establishes control over the nervous system, specifically to bring the self to a state of calm or parasympathetic dominance over unproductive stress. Ocean breathing helps to build a rhythm of heart rate that is even and slower than when not performed. Ocean breathing is the breath for Yoga asana practice (poses). Ocean breathing can be done during resistance training, chores, while moving items, and walking as well as while seated for Pranayama. Ocean Breathing can be practiced while laying in corpse pose. If one is greatly stressed or if constitution is weak try lying supine. The seated position does not matter as much as the clothes are loose and comfortable (no rib binding undergarments, ladies). The seated position need be comfortable enough to not need to change position of legs or body so focus is on inhalation and exhalation for 2-5 minutes. The advantage of the seated position over lying for any Pranayama is simply that while sitting the lungs are able to expand into the back ribs freely; the full benefits of the practice are gained.
To practice Ocean Breathing, also known in Sanskrit as Ujjayi Pranayama, find a quiet place where you can be uninterrupted. Be sure there are no pressing issues such as an oven timer and that the mind is at ease. If energy is restless try a few rounds of sun salutations before practicing breathing techniques. Sunrise and sunset times are considered auspicious times of each day and lend themselves naturally to calmness for breathing and meditation practices.
Once in a comfortable seated position, relax while maintaining good posture. Breath normally. Bringing the hands into prayer in front of the chest for a moment helps to retract the scapulae and encourages an opening across the chest, which automatically triggers a deeper breath. Lower the hands to rest on the thighs or knees.
After sitting or laying down on the back for a few minutes letting the breath be relaxed, begin by narrowing or constricting the throat gently so that a soft audible sound liken to that of a distant ocean sound emits slow and continuous as you inhale through the nose. To begin exhale slowly the sound “haaa” through the mouth. The “haaa” sound is created by subtly narrowing the throat. Inhale slowly through the nostrils following the soft sound of the ocean coming from the throat. Don’t rush, there is a natural pause between maximum relaxed inhalation and maximum relaxed exhalation. Exhale slowly through the mouth the sound “haaa.” Try this a few times until the same soft sound moves through the throat while exhaling though the nose & inhaling through the nose. You will feel there is a stronger force on the exhalation. Relax the face, the jaw, and the eyes. Begin with counting 4:4 ratio, inhalation to exhalation. If this is too difficult, begin with a lower ratio and practice until relaxed deep Ocean Breathing is easier and the ratio can be increased.
2-5 minutes practice for beginners. Use a soft alarm such as a chime. If tired, rest. 5-10 minutes practice intermediate. Learn here how to do the body locks to reserve energy before advancing to 10-20 minutes. The body locks need to practiced before incorporating breath retention. The locks are called “Bandhas”. The locks will reveal to you the readiness of your health to practice breath retention.
Benefits of Ocean Breathing include expansion of the lungs, mobilization of the ribs and rib joint articulations, while improving lubrication of these joints. The blood circulation of the surprisingly very vascular spinal column is improved. Ocean Breathing reduces incidents of spinal degeneration as well as pain. Accessory respiratory muscles of the neck and torso are exercised and strengthened. With regular practice, breathing is easier, more efficient and stronger. Lymph flow is mobilized in the neck, arms, auxiliary region and torso; strengthening immunity. Deep breathing strengthens the diaphragm reducing hiccups and helping to regulate balance between thoracic and abdominal cavity pressures. Sinuses of the skull including the nasal cavity are influenced helping to reduce pressure in the head as well as headaches. Oxygenation to the body is improved which in turn supports better ATP production for energy and the effective of body life processes. Stress is reduced on all levels of the being, relaxation is immediately experienced and helps improve sleep.
Precautions and contraindications to Ocean breathing include overeating or abdominal bloating while impair deep breathing. Refrain from eating for 1 ½ hour to 2 hours before practicing pranayamas or practice at sunrise as long the body is feeling rested and not hungry. Ocean breathing is a sedative Pranayama as well it builds heat in the body allowing for purification. Those who are strongly introverted should practice Alternate Nostril Breathing or Kapalabhati. Herniated discs, prolapsed disc issues should be resolved with treatments such as VAX-D before attempting breathing exercises.
Remember, the body is profoundly aware and responsive; regular practice is for the mind to learn how to be harmoniously aware of the body. Listening brings tremendous wisdom. With practice internal strife is reduced; with regular practice immediately alleviated. Pranayama can be practice almost anywhere, no equipment necessary. Blessings to you in your Ocean Breathing practice. Namaste.