The Samahita Blog

Breathing Exercise 1 – Breathwork Level – Beginner – BI-Ratio Breath

By Paul Dallaghan

The detail and explanation behind the breath and these techniques are more technical and dealt with in a separate article. The emphasis now is to follow and practice. Make it regular and you will understand through direct experience.

Opening set-up:

  • Establish how you will sit. Can be cross-legged or on a chair. Avoid letting the back round or slightly collapse, as this will reduce the efficiency of the overall breathing process.
  • Once comfortably settled, begin by watching the flow of your breath. That is all. Allow it to flow in and out the nose. Notice any tension in your face and especially in your jaw-mouth-tongue complex. Release it by consciously letting go. Notice breath movement at the chest, upper abdomen, navel, and even lower abdomen. See its rhythm or lack thereof. Tune into the movement at your navel. Stay with that for a minute or two.

BI-Ratio Breath build-up

Note: we are not taking full deep breaths. Rather at a level a bit beyond a normal inhale. If you start with taking big inhales you can trigger an anxiety effect and exacerbate your stress. We will, however, elongate the exhale which has both a calming effect with improved nervous stability. Follow on:

  1. The best way to jump into a breath regulating process is on the exhale. Consciously join your active breath on your next exhale. Then begin:
 inhale 1-2-3-pause (a count of 3-seconds is sufficient followed by a very short pause)
 exhale 1-2-3-pause 
continue this for at least 10 rounds (which is just over a minute) and flow without a break into level 2
  2. We now begin to extend the length of exhale. Maybe you can go straight to a double length (6 seconds in this case) or take a few rounds to grow it there:
 inhale 1-2-3-pause 
exhale 1-2-3-4-5-6-pause
continue this for at least 10 rounds (which is just over 1.5 minutes) or up to 30 rounds

BI-Ratio: 1 (inhale) to 1 (exhale), 1:1, grows to 1 (inhale) to 2 (exhale), 1:2

Breath length: most important is the ratio is kept intact. The length above is a standard recommendation that most people can follow. However you may need a shorter inhale (but keep the ratio) or perhaps 3 seconds is too short and instead go for 4 or 5 seconds, within ratio


After your last exhale of 6 seconds drop any effort to consciously breathe. Allow your breath to be free. Watch it. This is easy to keep at or under 10-minutes so you could be here for 2 minutes, a very nice two minutes. Or just be here without any clock watching or time-keeping let the experience flow its course.
When the urge to be done arises either get up smoothly and get on with the next activity or give yourself a nice laying down relaxation (savasana or nidra form).

Paul Dallaghan’s expertise with breathwork, body and meditative practices comes from three sources: over 25 years of daily dedicated practice and teaching these techniques; immersion in the original culture through one-on-one direct training in practice and study of ancient texts; doctoral scientific research at a leading US university (Emory) on yoga and breath in terms of stress, health and aging. Paul occupies a unique space to impart genuine teaching and science on these practices, acknowledged by his teacher and lineage (Kuvalayananda) in India as a Teacher-of-teachers and a Master of Breath, identified to carry the tradition (Pranayama). This places him as the only master-level yoga and breath practitioner currently immersed in scientific academic research on breathwork, stress and health. His sincere and ongoing role is to teach, write and research to help put out experienced and authentic information on these areas in a world full of confusion and conflicting messages both off and online.

For more on his background see his bio.

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