Those who have practiced on meditation know that focusing on / controlling the breath can affect your mood. According to a 2010 study by Professor of Psychology Pierre Philippot, our breathing involuntary changes when we experience certain emotions. This means that we can actually change our own state of being by manipulating our breath in a certain way. In this post, I’m going to discuss how some of the techniques your yoga instructor taught can enhance your spellcasting as well.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that breathing is some kind of spell in itself. Rather, it is a tool that can be used in spells to achieve certain ends.
Center and calm yourself through breathing. Since many of you have probably read something like this before, I’ll explain it quickly. If you sit with your back straight (but not tense), and pay attention to your breathing, you can direct that breath to certain areas of your body. Start at the top of the head and notice any sensations: tingling, throbbing, itching, whatever you’re feeling–without judging it. Then direct your breath there to soften it. Move down to your facial muscles, back and front of the neck, shoulders, upper back, lower back, chest, belly, and so on. If you notice any tightness or shakiness, direct the breath there and see if you can soften it. You can do this as a pre-ritual calming, or even as a sort of cleansing.
“But Yunan, you’re literally just describing meditation!” Oh, I totally am, just packaging it into simpler, less “mystical” terms to hopefully make it more available to people. If you’d like more info on where I receive my guided meditations and techniques, feel free to shoot me a message.
Grounding through breathing can be performed in moments. You’ll want to close your eyes, and breathe slowly. Sweep your breath down through your lower back, butt and legs. Really feel your weight on the cushion or floor. You may feel yourself getting heavier, the soft push of gravity on your head. When you feel this way, use your breath as an energy guide to connect to the earth, and really feel what’s below you. This is a fantastic starting point for earth magic and spirit work, if you’re working with local land spirits.
To improve focus, here’s an easy technique: As you breathe in, say to yourself, “breathing in”. As you breathe out, tell yourself, “breathing out”. Do this with slow breaths for a couple minutes. The point is to plant your focus back into your own body, into this present moment. You can do this after coming back from spirit flight, ending a trance work ritual, or assuaging any wandering thoughts you have during ritual.
Build energy through the Magical Breath, as I’ve seen some call it–the technical term is diaphragmatic breathing. The diaphragm is the largest muscle in the body, separating the belly from the ribcage. Basically, it’s the muscle you flex when you breathe in deeply through your chest. The best way to do this is to sit up straight, and inhale into the lungs. Make sure your shoulders are straight and your chest is slightly lifted. Once you’ve taken a deep breathe, hold it in for a moment. Then try to exhale without contracting the stomach muscles or ribs.
Because this isn’t the natural way we breathe, it can be hard at first. Do it a couple times, though, and you’ll have built up a lot of power inside your body, and heightened awareness or yourself and surroundings. This exercise can help before energy directing, or before divination.
The Four Fold Breath in a similar, shorter method that can also be combined with magical breathing. It’s fairly simple: inhale to the count of four; hold the breath for four seconds; exhale to the count of four. Again, this can build up your energy, but it can also calm you down if you find that you’re nervous or anxious during a ritual. This slow breathing will lower your heart rate and soften tense muscles.
Pool energy from where your breath touches the body. When you breathe in deeply, where do you feel it the most? Is it a coldness in the back of your throat? Is it a pressure in the chest? A swirling in the belly right below your ribcage? When you find that area where you most feel the breath, you can pull a ton of magical energy from there easily. Absolutely fantastic if you’re trying to power or charge something.
The Rapid Breath / Fire Breath builds up a ton of energy and releases it in one flashing moment. A technique with many names, this exercise speeds up your breathing into a rapid, but steady pattern for a few moments. If you focus on your spell intent while building up these breaths, you can eventually release that intent through a hard blow, or even a laugh, until all the oxygen is out of your lungs. By doing this, you’re releasing a ton of fiery energy into the spell component. Note that this isn’t hyperventilating; it’s a quick technique used to speed up the heart and blood flow, and should not be exhausted to dangerous levels.
Holotropic Breath is one I won’t be diving too much into, but deserves a mention. This technique is controlled hyperventilating, which can cause hallucinations under the correct circumstances. It’s often used during trances or spirit flight to achieve that ‘high’ like state, usually combined with other tools (smoke blends, projection, ointments etc.). If you have experience in these fields, you’re welcome to look up safety precautions on your own, as I haven’t tried it yet.
My biggest tip for all of these techniques is to not judge yourself. Don’t think you have to breathe in a certain way, and don’t blame yourself if your mind wanders. Our minds are built to wander, so gently bring yourself back, and accept how you feel in the present moment.
Did I miss anything? Please add on! I am by no means the queen of breathing techniques, and would love to learn other methods. Have a great day everyone!