Body Wisdom Blog

by Donna Brooks

8 Somatic Breathing Exercises to Do Today.

Why Somatic Breathing Exercises? 

As a long time yoga and somatic movement therapist I studied many breathing techniques that dictated rules about breathing. For years, I imposed breathing exercises on my body. But, by giving my body the freedom to find its own breath I am healthier and happier.

Somatic Breath is about breathing from the inside out.

The field of somatic movement therapy and education is about liberating the natural wisdom of your body including your breath. Certainly, breathing exercises do have their place.  However, somatic breathing allows you to regulate and support your breathing from the deep well of wisdom inside your body.

Somatic Breathing exercises are done with kindness and curiosity. 

 it is important  breathing is gentle, respectful and done without strain. Please use self compassion and curiosity with the exercises below. That is where the magic happens! 

8 Somatic Breathing Exercises:

1. Can you simply feel the movement of breath? Feel it, if you do, through your nostrils, your throat, in your chest and lungs and in your abdomen. Can you feel it in your hips? The sides of your torso? In your back?  Don’t make this happen; just sir or lie down, breathe easily and observe with judgement or direction.  What does it feel like to witness the movement of breath in your body? Has it changed you? Has your breathing become easier? 

Some people feel more stress when they watch their breath. It is not uncommon with anxiety. If that is you please try. If you don’t feel anxious, still try this. The prolonged exhalation will help your nervous system stay calm in the face of uncertainty, over work and stress.

Breathe Longer Exhalations to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

2.   Put on a sound scape of waves to get this feeling. Then focus on your exhalation. Imagine it is a wave that is strong at first but gets softer and softer as it comes to shore. Let your breath fade to nothing. Don’t be in a hurry to inhale. wait until you can feel a natural rise of your inhale. Take that rise to the top of a wave and let it automatically become an exhalation. Again let the exhalation fade to nothing keeping a gentle eye on length. let your exhalation be several counts longer than your inhalation but without strain. 

As possible, breath through your nose. especially on the inhale. That will also help with anxiety and is healthy as the nose naturally filters, warms and moistens the air we take in.

Somatic breathing exercises want you to awaken the intelligence of your actual anatomy.

3. This means understanding how the diaphragm really works. Diaphragmatic breathing is NOT belly breathing. You can click here and watch my video on jelly fish diaphragm breathing. This is the most powerful aspect of your breathing and many people who belly breath don’t make full use of the diaphragm. 

4. Engage the diaphragm further with sound.  Try exhaling with a shhh sound. After several rounds try a PSST sound. You can also try a moaning sound. Do any of these sounds help you feel your natural “jellyfish” diaphragm? There is a lot of abdominal muscular activity with diaphragmatic breathing and your might feel different part of your girdle muscle as you sound.

Somatic Breathing Exercises Make use of Images such as Jelly Fish and Stingray Fish to Help Find natural Movement.

5. Can you also perceive the edges of your rib cage as a mantra or Stingray? Can you feel the lower edges of your rib cage flare up and out slightly as you breath in and drip down and in as you breath out? Somatic breathing means finding this natural movement but without strain and imposition. How do you guide your breath without force?

6. Try feeling the wideness of your breath. Hold your hand our in front of you and as you inhale spread your hands apart. bring them closer together as you exhale. Can this help you feel both the jellyfish and stingray qualities of your diaphragm.

It is Healthy to Breath Through Your Nose.

7. Breathing through your nose is optimal. Take a full exhalation and hold your nose with your fingers. Start drawing circles with your nose so your head gently moves led by your nose. Let go and breath normally. Is it any easier to breath through your nose? Remember – be curious!

8. Check in with your breathing through your day. If and when you catch yourself holding your breath place a hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Wait and see if you need to take an inhalation or to let out an exhalation. Let your body direct your breathing.

With somatic breathing exercises, less is more. We are looking for less effort, less big breaths and less strain around your breathing! o much to explore about breath and recover from the bad habits that limit an easy full breath. These are just a few exercises to jump start you – see my Youtube channel  or website page for more interesting and effective approaches to better breathing.