Breathing is key to yoga practice. There are many effective methods for using breath for different purposes in our yoga practice. In Embodyoga® we have been exploring a variation on yogic breathing that we call Navel Flooding Breath. Navel Flooding Breath is not specifically a chest breath or a belly breath. Navel flooding is a technique that encourages the prana of the breath to enter through, and deeply into, all the organs of the torso, including the mid, lower, and upper navel, and into the chest. It is a breath that is initially directed to the tissues behind the belly organs and is allowed to spread through all of the soft tissues: organs, fascia, vessels, and glands. In this way we allow the prana of our breath to move effortlessly into the entire torso.
In Navel Flooding Breath, we are both relaxing and energizing our body tissues. Prana seeps through the folds of the mesentery. The mesentary is a fascial structure that along with the peritoneal sac, tethers the digestive organs to the back abdominal wall. It feels in the body like a soft undulating and waving structure. It can be very comforting to feel, and its health and suppleness are important to our vitality. The image of soft coral below is reminiscent of the inner feeling of the mesentery.
In Navel Flooding Breath the prana penetrates all the way through and around the organs, following the arcs and folds of the mesentary and the peritoneal sac. The stickiness that can develop in and between these tissues gets a chance to release. The organ body becomes freer and softer. Life force flows unencumbered to and from our core.
Navel Flooding Breath is different from a normal belly breath. While in normal belly breathing the navel tissues push forward right at the beginning of inhalation, in navel flooding we take a different approach. We begin by softening the tissues of the deep belly just as we do in normal belly breathing. But, in this case, we take our awareness specifically to the deep navel behind the stomach and belly button area, all the way back to the posterior abdominal wall. This area is where the mesentery attaches to the back abdominal wall. The free movement of fresh life force in and behind these organs is a tremendous boon to our health.
The image we use in Navel Flooding Breath is one of a lake that floods up its sides as it fills in spring.
Whereas, in a normal belly breath the belly begins to rise immediately, in the Navel Flooding Breath the belly will stay dropping at the beginning of inhalation. We actively imagine that we are allowing the breath to seep into the back of the deep belly. The front navel stays still, or it may even drop down further at the beginning of the inhalation. As we continue to inhale we imagine that the deep belly is flooding with prana—life force. Our awareness follows the liquid sensation of cellular respiration within the navel. Due to the nature and shape of our belly, its organs, and its soft tissue membranes, the movement of prana will trickle and seep through all different nooks and crannies.
We do not need to direct it. All we need to do is continue to allow the breath to flood from the back belly, down through the deep pelvis, under the solar plexus region, and up the sides of the torso, effortlessly, like a lake flooding its circumference in springtime. The prana will take care of the rest. By breathing in this manner, we saturate our organ core with life force. The more effortless the breath, the greater the benefit. Don’t force. Just rest and breathe. Play with the sensations. Inquire and take your time.