Waterfall breathing, or the divided out-breath, can be used to calm a restless, agitated mind, inducing a state of deep calm and peacefulness. It soothes anxiety and dispels panic. It helps promote a good night’s sleep. Around the summer solstice waterfall breathing provides a watery counterbalance to the fiery, frenetic energy of the season. It can be found in the Summer Solstice chapter of the Yoga Through the Year book. Allow about 10 minutes.
Find yourself a comfortable sitting position. Bring your awareness to your breathing. No need to control the breath, just allow the breath to establish its own natural rhythm. Now become aware of and focus more on your exhale. Over several breaths begin to gently lengthen the exhale. Never strain with the breathing.
If it feels comfortable, begin to divide each exhale into two equal parts, with a pause in between each part. It looks like this:
Exhale, pause, exhale, and pause.
Imagine that with each part of the divided out-breath you are stepping down a step and then briefly pausing before stepping down another step.
If this feels comfortable, you can then go on to divide the out-breath into three equal parts, with pauses in between each part.
Now, going back to your normal breathing, imagine that you are in a beautiful, peaceful place watching a gently cascading waterfall. Picture the water flowing down steps of rock into a calm pool below. Keeping this image of the cascading waterfall in your mind, return again to the divided out-breath. Imagine that each part your out-breath is like water flowing down a waterfall and onto a ledge, where you pause briefly, and then exhale again, each part flowing down onto another ledge, before finally reaching a peaceful pool, where you pause briefly and then inhale. Repeat over several breaths.
When you feel ready, let go of the divided out-breath and the image of the waterfall. Notice how you are feeling and observe how the waterfall breathing has affected you. Resolve to take this calm, peaceful, open, and spacious awareness with you into your everyday life and the next thing that you do today.
If you prefer, this breathing practice can be used without using the waterfall imagery and will still be deeply relaxing.
Jilly Shipway, sharing seasonal yoga ideas and inspiration with you through the year...
Please feel free to share ideas and resources that you find in my blog, but please do acknowledge me and my website as their source. Thanks!
Disclaimer: if you have any concerns about your health or suitability to do yoga, please consult a medical professional before attempting any of the yoga routines in this blog.