• Lee Hopkins

Breathing through your spine.

I thought I would start this week by bringing a little awareness to your spine.

This is a huge topic of conversation so I thought I would break it down to some simple contemplations and movements which I find interesting.

There is so much contemplation regarding the function of the spine, its importance in the practice of yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais, as well as having energic and philosophical links, the spine really is fascinating.

One of the yoga contemplations I practice is the movement of the breath up and down the spine.

This breathing technique has many names and is used in many different practices worldwide including Kriya, Hatha and kundalini yoga, Qi gong, Thai chi to name a few.

For this purpose, we will simply refer to this as Circular breath.

For those who attend any of my yoga classes, you will know this is a breath practice I use a lot.

It has come up for me many times and in many different practices over the years which has led me to believe that this one contemplation of your breath can be powerful enough on its own.

Part of the philosophy behind it (without going too much into it) is that this breath is the foundation for the correct flow of energy within you.

Rising breath Prana

Falling breath Apana

The inhalation represents the rising of life energy withing you and the exhalation represents its releasing.

It represents the duality of life in all its different forms and is part of a basic breath technique that once established, leads into a more advanced stage.


- Start by sitting comfortably with your back straight.

- Point the tongue up in the roof of the mouth and breath fully (in and out) through your nose.

- Once you have bought your awareness to your breath, imagine the breath travelling up the back of the spine when you inhale and the breath falling down the front of your spine on the exhale.

- Repeat this sensation for as long as you feel comfortable.

Circular breathing helps to calm the mind, settle the nervous system and also enhance vital energy.

The movement of sacral spinal fluid also follows this direction.

I thought we would start there this week with a simple practice and contemplation of the breath before we tackle the spine in more detail.

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