Deep breath in… hold it at the top… deep breath out.
When working to incorporate a mindful breathwork practice into your daily routine, it can be difficult at first to understand the transformative power of the breath. Because it is a primarily automatic process that takes place behind the scenes subconsciously, learning to optimize our breathing patterns as a tool to combat stress and anchor ourselves into the present moment is often overlooked- especially in Western society.
In order to be well in the practice of Ayurveda, we focus on balancing mind, body, and soul. If one of these elements is not balanced, issues can manifest in the form of physical and mental symptoms in the body. The key practice that keeps me feeling balanced inside and out is mindful breathing- specifically the 2-1 breathing technique.
What is 2-1 Breathing?
The basic principle of 2-1 breathing is simple: inhale through your nose and into your abdomen, then exhale through the mouth for twice the duration. Then repeat. As your parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated your heart rate will begin to slow, blood pressure drops, and your muscles will slowly relax.
Putting It Into Practice
- Begin by finding a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down.
- Inhale through your nose for a count of 4 and allow your abdomen to gently inflate.
- Then, exhale for a count of 8 (twice the count of inhalation) and allow your abdomen to slowly soften as you do so.
- Repeat this process for several rounds before returning to your natural breath. Over time, you can try increasing the length of breath in your practice to find what feels most comfortable (just remember that your exhalation time should always be double that of your inhale!)
Inhale through your nose and into your abdomen, then exhale through the mouth for twice the duration. Then repeat.
I learned about 2-1 breathing from my mother when I was 6 years old. It’s the foundation of all yogic breathing techniques, so it was the first one I started with even before learning how to meditate. Growing up, I incorporated it into my routine, before exams at school and dance performances, and today I continue to use it while I travel, before meetings, and any situation I feel myself craving balance or the need to calm my nerves.
It really helps me get to a place mentally and physically to be able to perform the best I can in any situation.
This practice is important to me because it really helps me get to a place mentally and physically to be able to perform the best I can in any situation. It helps me release any stress while increasing my focus. Also, the longer exhalation removes toxins and carbon dioxide from your body and supports a healthy autonomic nervous system (think of it as the opposite of “fight or flight.”)
Breathe, Mask, Multitask
My favorite opportunities to incorporate this technique into my routine are during skincare, morning rituals, in transit between meetings or before I go to sleep. 2-1 breathing during stretching, yoga and other forms of exercise is also amazing because it allows you to move deeper into each pose and allows oxygen into all areas of the body while increasing blood circulation.
My favorite opportunities to incorporate this technique in my daily routine are during skincare, morning rituals, in transit between meetings or before I go to sleep.
In my skincare routine, I like to incorporate a hydrating mask like MahaMask™ Pampering Moisture Treatment at least three times a week. Once I’ve applied the mask all over my face, I use the next 10-15 minutes to practice 2-1 breathing to unwind and relax my face muscles while exhaling waste and toxins from my system. Fresh oxygen energizes and rejuvenates cells to help reduce the impact of stress on skin.
Incorporating breathwork into my skincare ritual gives me an even healthier glow and elevates my mood!
How will you incorporate 2-1 breathing in your daily routine to balance mind, body, and soul?