Time-crunched? Who isn’t? So here’s a way to get the benefits of both walking and meditation at the same time.
Breathwalking is based on a Kundalini yoga technique, and involves making strong, purposeful strides in rhythm with breathing. Dr. Weil’s colleague, Dr. Jim Nicolai, demonstrates various examples of breathwalking including the “stair” and “wave” patterns. Give them a try!
Video Transcript: Breathwalking with Dr. Jim Nicolai
Hi! I’m Dr. Andrew Weil. Here’s some valuable health information from my friend, former student, and colleague, Dr. Jim Nicolai. Hi! I’m Dr. Jim Nicolai and we’re here at Miraval Resort and Spa. I’m going to teach you a method of breathing that’s a meditation, where you use a form of specific breathing techniques while you’re walking to create a level of active calm. My main goal in trying to teach people quick and dirty health techniques is to teach them how to breathe fuller, deeper and more even. The breath is the lynch key between changing your state and oftentimes, when we’re breathing shallowly, we find ourselves in a state of anxiety; being overly alert or too “on”. And breathing fuller, deeper, and more even can give you a state of what I call, “active calm”, where you’re calmer throughout the course of the day, have more access to a relaxed state, but you’re still able to function. And so this breath teaches you how to breathe fully, deeply and more even while you’re walking.
The first part of the breath is what I call the “wave”, where what you want to try to do is simply breathe fuller, deeper and more even to a count of four. And so, it’s breathing in for a count of four and out for a count of four. I often will tell people to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, but you might find that that breath falls into its own cadence, where you’re breathing in through your nose and out through your nose. Or you just find a way to breathe that fits for you. So the wave looks like this: in for four, out for four, where your breathing rhythmically even like so. To teach people how to do this, where you’re seeking it with your stride, is simply to walk in cadence, where your breath and your strides follow that rhythmic count of four. It looks like this. So with the wave breathing, you use that along with another breath and you interval one with the other. That breath is called stair breathing, in which case, you’re using a four in, four out pattern of breathing. But, instead of one full breath in for a count of four and out for a count of four, what you’re doing is doing four small breaths in linked together, and four small breaths out linked together. It looks like this. Or as you’re walking stairs. Stair breathing looks like this, where we link each stride with a breath. So it looks like this. So when I’m breath walking, what I find is, I will do stairs or the wave breath. What will often time happen is it will sort of evolve into what I call “halfsies”, where you’re doing half of one form and half of the other. What I find myself doing is half stairs and then half wave, and that looks like this. Sort of imagining that you’re walking up a slide and then sliding down. Half breathing looks like this.