Bellows Breath for Running & Health

Sometimes you wake up feeling as if you made of lead. Heavy, tired, completely unmotivated to get out of bed. This kind of lethargy can become debilitating. But, if you’re willing to feel a little goofy, you can bring the sloth to extinction. And you won’t need an expensive Transcendental Mediation Workshop to do it.

In fact, this dynamic breathing exercise only snags a minute of your time. It’s easy to learn. If you do it alone, no on will have a clue to the secret of your boundless energy and charisma.

This form of breathing is called Bhastrika (pronounced bah-STREE-kah). It’s one of many yoga breathing techniques. Bhastrika roughly translates to the “bellows breath”. As you’ll soon discover, it’s an appropriate name because when you perform it correctly, you sound just like a bellows stoking the fires. The technique is active. You draw breath forcibly in and out through the nose in equal proportion. Make sure you blow your nose before you begin this practice.

Bellows Breath aka Bhastrika for Barefoot Runners Step by Step

  1. Sit Straight & Relax your Shoulders

  2. Breath In and Out through Your NOSE

    Take a few deep, full breaths. Your stomach should expand when you INHALE and contract when you EXHALE. You should hear the air as it moves quickly through your nose and throat into your lungs during inhalation. You should also hear the breath during the exhalation. If you’re doing it correctly, you should hear sound like a bellows. This is a vigorous, forceful breath. Very active. The breaths should be rapid: about one second in, followed by one second out. The out breath is IMMEDIATE; no pause. Just in out in out, etc. Both breaths are through your nose. The mouth takes a vacation for during this type of breathing. It stays shut throughout.

  3. Continue the Vigorous In Out Breaths for 30 seconds, then Breath Normally, but Stay Seated.

    You may feel dizzy, lightheaded, or, like I did, as if you’re floating. Don’t panic, this is normal. Just enjoy the calm for another 30 seconds. You will find that the calmness lingers and that you will have more energy and creative ideas as the day progresses. This practice should be done at least three times a day, but 10 times is optimal. It should NOT before bed because it does tend to give you energy. If you do it too close to bedtime, it can keep you awake.

Note: This is aggressive breathing. Refrain from this technique if you’re pregnant or have had abdominal surgery. Don’t do this WHILE running. Do it before or after runs.

Going Barefoot Gets You High

I am convinced that barefoot walking or running gets you high. Not only because everyone who sees you calls you crazy and thinks you’re stoned even though you’re not, but also because it forces you to slow down, to become conscious of your much ignored feet, and to feel the many various textures of the earth. Shoes numb us from the sensations of our planet. We sever ourselves from the earth. Exposing your feet to ground awakens nerves and sparks sensations all over your body. No wonder it ignites creative thoughts.

Even rain-wet concrete can be exhilarating. Sharp gravel keeps you in the moment–forcing mindful steps. Your brain quiets down when it’s trying to avoid pain. The worries and stress of the day float away. Your concern is to step forward safely. Sometimes you avoid the sharp rocks or maybe they avoid you.

But don’t take my word for. Take off your shoes and step outside. A world of experience awaits.