I found out about circular breathing in 2005, when a friend invited me to a healing circle in Woodinville (right outside Seattle), Washington.
It was an early evening circle, the room smelled like lavendar and jasmine, and we laid in a circle with our feet facing each other, while a man I nicknamed White Hawk Feather led us through an intense and deep breathing exercise designed to activate our pineal glands, heal pain, and open our hearts.
After one session, I was hooked.
White Hawk Feather warned us ahead of time, that some people may experience something called Tetany (link goes to an article I wrote on this subject, in case you are experiencing it yourself), and to simply continue to breathe and relax on our mats.
As I breathe, I noticed my tendency to want to leave the breath. White Hawk Feather said this was our tendency to want to leave ourselves. So I brought myself back, again & again. By the end of the session, I was buzzing from head to toe, and in a state of peace and calm I had never experienced before. I was hooked.
What is Circular Breathing?
Different than the Tantric tradition, Circular Breathing is the art of breathing into the bottom of the spine, up into the heart and chest, and then down from the heart and chest slowly back into the lower spine, inhaling & exhaling.
What Makes Circular Breathing Unique?
Unlike other forms of breathwork, Circular Breathwork is performed laying down, usually covered, often with soft music, and is designed as a kind of therapy to assist the body in letting go of stored pain, emotion and what Ayurveda would term Samskaras. It is usually a self-guided process, but it can also be a process that is supported by a gentle guide or energy worker like myself.
How Do I Perform Circular Breathwork?
- To perform Circular Breathwork, find a comfortable place where you will not be disturbed for at least 30 minutes. You can do Circular Breathing in increments of 15 minutes. Set a timer and try to stick with it, as things can come up… and committing to do it for the full duration of your scheduled time ensures that you really approach and work through the sensations and emotions that will inevitably come up during your breathing session.
- I sometimes roll a towel halfway and put it under my neck, a pillow under my knees, and place a blanket over my body. I will often bring an extra blanket and set it beside me for the duration of the session, as I can sometimes get ‘the chills’, a time that requires more warmth and tenderness.
- I will sometimes do this in silence, or I will play soft music. I have a great Soul Songs playlist on Spotify, with over 70 songs, that are specially curated to help you drop in. To subscribe to this playlist and get updates whenever I add new tunes, click here. I recommend subscribing to Spotify to prevent commercial interruptions (which can be a distraction and may pull you out of whatever experience you are moving through).
- I like to have the knowledge that I have people to call or reach out to, should something come up that feels too difficult to move through on my own. If you do not have this group, please check out my article How to Find the Tribe You Seek. Also, working with a great energy worker is one of the best tools I’ve found to help move through these tough phases. If you need a resource, let me know. I’m fortunate to have worked with some of the best energy workers in the land, and am happy to give you a lead.
- Now here’s how to breathe: Laying flat on your back, breathe deep into your stomach, slowly up until your chest rises, and then allow your chest to fall down to your stomach as you exhale. This should be a long, deep, continuous breath. Watch your breathing and make sure you continue to breathe deeply. You may feel tingly, but stick with it. Sometimes the tingles can take over and make you feel dizzy. I caution you at this point (especially if you have trouble with low blood pressure, etc). Might be wise to check in with a doctor if this tends to be you. However, if you are in good health and your doctor advises you that this is perfectly fine or even beneficial, go ahead and continue to gently breathe. As mentioned above, Tetany can be normal, so if you experience this, please read the instructions in the link provided and move through it at your leisure.
- Be sure you’ve set a timer with a gentle buzz or ringing chimes to indicate when your time is up. Repeat as needed 🙂
Over time, the breathing will get easier, and you may find you need more or less of it, depending on your results. I encourage you to stick with it, at least once or twice a week, until you get the results you seek (but even then, keep with it. The results are truly unending).
So now, the 5 Things That Make Circular Breathing the Best Thing Ever:
- When you focus it compassionately on pain, as you breathe, you can alleviate pain symptoms in miraculous ways. That’s my experience anyway (and this is not medical advice).
- It increases your energy 100 times over. The more I breathe, the more energy I get. Some would say this is because of the levels of oxygen my body is receiving. I would tend to agree… but I tend to feel there is even more to it than that. Breathing tends to unlock places in us that may not have been getting energy in the past, resulting in a deeper relationship with yourself, which brings us to number 3:
- You become more tuned in and connected not just to yourself, but to others as well. When you breathe regularly, you are giving your body the energy and attention (and oxygen!) it needs. The result is an inner sense of calm, connectedness and peace you can’t get anywhere else.
- You sleep better. Nothing helps me sleep like a babe than a nice deep breathing session (although be careful not to do this intense breathing right before bed, as it can have the opposite effect and fill you with energy sometimes). I prefer to do my sessions in the afternoon or a couple of hours before bed, allowing enough time for the energy to work its way out of me… as a good breathwork session eventually turns to a calm sense of peace that lasts well into the the next couple of days.
- Your senses are heightened. Something about breathwork makes your senses much more acute. You can taste better, smell more, hear things at greater distances, even see a little bit better (I find, over time).
There is SO much to love about breathwork and Circular Breathing. I would love to hear more about your experience with it, and your favorite parts so far, in the comments below. See you soon 🙂