#4 Breathing Exercises

By Rochelle Schieck on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 12:25pm

Video Link

teacher training https://vimeo.com/42140204

kapalbhati breathing https://vimeo.com/26548084

shamanic breathing https://vimeo.com/26397669

alternate nostril breathing https://vimeo.com/26395975

the simplicity of taking a deep breath https://vimeo.com/26081312

password: qoya



Breathing Exercises


Breathing is an automatic function in our bodies, but when we bring our consciousness to it, we find there are a multitude of healing benefits physiologically, as well as mentally and emotionally.


The way in which you are breathing, often reflects the way in which you are thinking. If your breath is erratic, often the mind is also distracted. If your breath is deep, slow and rhythmic, often your mind is also calm and centered.


Take a deep breath right now.

Inhale as long as you can.

Exhale as long as you can.


Awareness of breath is one of the most simple and powerful ways to bring your awareness into the present moment, increase your energy levels and connect your mind and body into the same experience in present time.


A quick note about a more challenging breathing exercises- it's actually a gift. Stretch yourself and your students to do something that requires your full attention even if it is a little frustrating in the beginning! :-)


There are a series of different breathing exercise videos for you to integrate into your class. Please, always encourage awareness of deep breathing into every part of the Qoya class.



Teaching Notes: The breathing exercise is a time for women to arrive, to land in the present moment. Speak slowly, leaving space between instructions for the women to be present with just their breath.When teaching breathing exercises in Qoya, guide students to experience how the breath feelsphysically as it enters and leaves their body. To get an idea of how to guide students to feel their way through these exercises, practice the breathing exercises online and note the cues listed below.



The most common way Rochelle introduces breathing into a class is to have women set their intention is through movement and have them tap into the simplicity of taking a deep breath. To inhale arms

up to sky, and exhale arms circle back down. Cue them to feel as much as they can

Do this several times to connect with the breath

and with the present moment and then invite them to open their mind and their heart to set an intention and repeat it to themselves like a mantra, “Today, I am dancing for _____”  Encourage them to do this a couple times on their own (silently), say, “Let’s do a couple more together. 


Inhale and say to yourself,  "Today I am dancing for _____."

And imagine

planting your intention like a seed in your body. 

Say, to yourself, "Inhale, Today I am dancing for _____." 


your intention like a seed in this circle, in this room. 

Once more, saying to yourself, like a mantra, "Today I am dancing for _____." 

And lastly,

planting your intention like a seed in this world. 




Alternate Nostril Breathing:

practice taking your time

not feeling in a rush

inhale completely, exhale completely 

be kind and patient with yourself as you work up to maintaining longer breaths


Kapalbhati/Shamanic Breathing:

start slow in the beginning

feel the rhythmic pace

tune into the physical sensation of what you are doing

be really patient with yourself. Look for the rhythm, the consistent pace. Start to feel yourself wake up and warm up, from the inside out. Tap into the zone where you can be present, coordinating movement. Feel your mind and body in the present moment. Thinking, rationalizing less and less, sensing experiencing, feeling more and more. Feel the quality of your intention increase as you become more present. Trust your body and mind’s intuitive wisdom.






Alternate Nostril Breathing

Benefits: Balancing, relaxing, and calming.


  1. Sit in a comfortable crosslegged position.
  2. Using your right hand, fold your pointer and middle fingers into your palm, leaving your thumb, ring finger, and pinky sticking up.
  3. Bring your thumb to the right side of your nose and your ring finger to the left side.
  4. Close off your right nostril with your thumb.
  5. Inhale through your left nostril, to the count of four.
  6. Close off your left nostril with your ring finger, so both nostrils are closed and hold the
  7. breath to the count of 16.
  8. Open and exhale through your right nostril, to the count of 8.
  9. Inhale through your right nostril to the count of 4.
  10. Close off your right nostril with your thumb, so both nostrils are closed and hold the breath
  11. to the count of 16.
  12. Open and exhale through your left nostril, to the count of 8.


Start by practicing 3 rounds and slowly work up to doing 20.



Benefits: cleansing, invigorating, warming, prevents illness and allergies


This breath consists of rapid, forced exhales followed by passive inhales. It is best done at the beginning of a yoga session. In Kundalini yoga practice, Kapalabhati breath is sometimes donewhile holding poses.


  1. Come to sit in a comfortable crosslegged position.
  2. Take two or three deep inhales and exhales through the nose to prepare.
  3. Inhale to a comfortable level, and then exhale sharply and forcefully through the nose, drawing the belly in as you exhale.
  4. Let the inhale happen passively, and continue this cycle of forceful exhales and passive inhales at a fast pace, so that the belly is pumping continuously.
  5. Do three rounds of thirty breaths each, coming back to deep inhales and exhales between
  6. each round and work up to 10 rounds.
  7. Come back to normal breathing if you feel lightheaded at any time.


Shamanic Breathing


In 10+ years of being a student and teacher of yoga and meditation, this breathing exercise that I learned during my studies in energy healing and shamanic traditions with the Four Winds Society is a standout favorite.  This is the breathing exercise that I personally do on a daily basis and find is consistently effective in clearing stagnant energy, focusing my mind, energizing my body and connecting me to my inner wisdom.


To begin, sit in a comfortable position with your legs crossed. (It is generally more comfortable to have your hips above your knees. You could sit on a meditation cushion or pillow.) Sitting on the front edge of a chair with your feet flat and both sit bones equally touching the seat is also a great option.


1- Interlace your fingers behind your back, release your index fingers so they are pointing down towards the floor.  


2- Begin exhale breathing out through the nose, focusing on snapping your navel in towards your spine.  Start slowly and then work towards a consistent and steady rhythm, increasing your pace as you feel comfortable. Do this for a minute or two.


3- Take a deep cleansing breath.  Inhale fully through the nose and exhale forcefully out of the mouth imagining releasing any stagnant or stuck energy.


4- Take three quick inhales through the nose and then hold your breath.  As you hold the breath, pulse from the perineum pulling energy up into your body.  Think of a tree’s root system that goes deep and wide into the earth.  Spread your energetic roots outs and feel yourself pulling nourishment up from the earth and into your body.  Do this as long as you can hold the breath comfortably.


5- Inhale your arms up over your head and interlace all ten fingers, release the index fingers so they are pointing up towards the sky.  Begin your exhale rhythmically snapping the belly in with your mouth closed, breathing out through the nose. Focus on the exhale only and practice letting the inhale happen naturally.  Stay focused on the physical sensation and rhythm of snapping the belly in as youexhale for about a minute.


6- Take a deep cleansing breath.  Inhale fully through the nose and exhale forcefully out of the mouth like your were blowing out a birthday candle a foot away from you.


7- Take three quick inhales in through the nose and hold your breath.  As you do, pulse from the perineum opening up towards the sky like a lotus flower opens to the sun.  Open yourself up to receive the light from the radiant warmth of the sun, the wise cycles of the moon, the luminescence of the starts.  Start by pulling the energy into your body and eventually open yourself up, so you do not have to grasp at the light, but just be able to receive it.   Do this as long as you can hold the breath comfortably.Sequence: This breathing exercise is best done first thing in the morning before eating, but can be done anytime during the day.  


Modifications: If you are healing an injury or have a part of your body that is talkative or irritable, you always want to use the injury as an opportunity to heal and increase your awareness of how your body works.   If any particular part of your body is achy, reference the list below to see if one of the modifications below may be helpful to you.


Tight shoulders and neck:  If it is difficult to stretch your arms up over your head, you can bend your elbows to begin and slowly over time straighten your arms back out.  If that is still too intense, hold your hands in front of your heart like a prayer position, fingertips still pointing up.  


Tip:  It can be difficult and awkward in the beginning of this exercise.  However, it’s actually a blessing.  By it being challenging, you have to really focus and be present to get it, which is how you get the benefit of the breathing by tuning in.  Please be patient with yourself


Tip:  Practice feeling fully present in your body with each phase of the breathing exercise.  Really snap the belly in, really take a deep cleansing breath and really pulse the energy in.  Try not to slip into going through the motions half-heartedly.  As an intermediate tip, increase your intensity by becoming even more connected and aware.


Tip:  Sense the energy.  Thinking less and feeling more.  Imagine the sensation of the energy coming into your body as you pulse and feel your sensitivity increase.  When you feel it, start to imagine it infusing into every cell of your body, clearing any heavy dense energy, and restoring your connection to light.



Music Suggestions for Breathing and Intention Setting John De Kadt – Stars - Instrumental

Tinariwen – Desert Wind

Moby – Homeward Angel

Jami Sieber – Maenam

Goldmund – Evelyn

The Pines – Moonrise, IA

Benjy Wertheimer – Maya

Professor Trance – Medicine Trance

Björk – Cosmogony - Matthew Herbert instrumental mix 1 Goldmund – Threnody

Benjy Wertheimer – Tabla Breath

Mickey Hart – Light Over Shadow

Benjy Wertheimer – One River

Karunesh – Evening Reflections

Osho/Music From The World Of Osho – Sacred World Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Umusa Kankulunkulu EarthRise SoundSystem – Embrace

The Pines – Grace Hill

Yann Tiersen – Introductory Movement - Two Pianos, Violin, Harpsichord

EarthRise SoundSystem – Intention

Ziggy Marley – Love Is My Religion - Acoustic

Alison Krauss – Down To The River To Pray - Soundtrack Version (O Brother Where Art Thou?)