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Mindful : October 2019
“Ha!” breathing is helpful when you’re drowsy or feeling fuzzy and need something to wake up your mind. Try it first thing in the morning or any time when you are tired and faced with demanding mental tasks. For most people, the exercise works best in short takes of two to five minutes. It’s per- fectly fine to do it two or three times throughout the day. Note: Although “Ha!” breathing is safe for most people, it should be avoided by those who have uncon- trolled hypertension, seizure disorder, pregnancy, recent surgery, aneurysm, hernia, or bipolar disorder. Here are the basic instruc- tions from Richard Brown and Patricia Gerbarg’s book The Healing Power of the Breath: 1 Stand up straight, with your elbows bent, forearms parallel to the ground, palms up, and fingers curved into loose fists. 2 Inhale, breathing deeply through your nose while drawing your elbows behind your back. 3 Exhaling sharply, shout “Ha!”, while extending your arms and thrusting your hands for- ward while flipping your palms down, as if you were flinging water off your fingertips. 4 Inhale deeply, again draw your arms and elbows back, turn your palms up, and curl your fingers to form loose fists. 5 Exhale sharply with the “Ha!” sound, repeating the same thrusting arm and hand movements. Each round should be done quickly, breathing in and out at the rate of one breath per second. Get Energized A breathing technique to refresh your mind and get moving. MOVEMENT sor at New York Medical College, have developed a program of exercises, detailed in their book The Healing Power of the Breath, which have pro- duced remarkable results in studies of patients with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other conditions. The exercises are based, in large part, on traditional qigong and yogic practices, and the couple’s work with patients over the past 25-plus years. According to Brown, the ancient qigong masters had a deep understanding of how the autonomic nervous system works. As evidence, he cited a treatise in the Tao Te Ching, that “starts out by saying that the purpose of breathing practices is to become like a newborn baby,” which aligns directly with O’Hare’s research on breathing and heart rate variability. The ancient Chinese texts, Brown said, instructed begin- ning students to learn slow “natural” breathing first, to restore yang to the body, which is related to the para- sympathetic nervous system. And once they’d mastered that, they were given fast breathing exercises to gen- erate yin, which parallels the sympa- thetic system. Then, in the final stage, they returned to slow breathing to integrate and balance the practice. → Ha! October 2019 mindful 69