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An Energizing Breathing Practice

Discover how a Hawaiian breath practice can give you a fresh charge of energy.

Key points

  • Breathing practices can help revitalize us when we feel stressed or exhausted.
  • One example is "ha" breathing, which involves inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, making a "ha" sound.
  • "Ha" breathing can provide the body and brain with the oxygen they need, creating an energizing effect.
Source: fizkes/iStock

How many times have you said to yourself, "I wish I had more energy," or "I just don't have the energy to tackle that"?

The issue isn't really about whether we have enough energy at our disposal. It's about our ability to access it and let it flow through us.

In Huna—the ancient art and science of healing and spiritual development of the Hawaiian Islands that I practice and teach—the goal is to influence and flow your energy, not allowing it to control you.

As my Kumu (teacher) Uncle George Na'ope said,

"The breath is the basis of life. If you want to learn to control anything—energy, higher self, mana (life force), your thoughts—you've got to start with the breath, because the breath gives you life. If you can't control your breath, how can you expect to control the most powerful universal energy around you?"

Breathing is emphasized in many practices and taught in various ways. In Huna, I was taught "ha" breathing to work with energy.

"Ha" Breathing Practice

"Ha" breathing is simple, but it does require focus.

  • To begin, inhale through your nose to a count of 3 or 4.
  • Next, exhale through your mouth to a count of 6 or 8, making a soft "haaaa" sound. The inhale/exhale relationship is always at a 1-to-2 ratio (i.e., 3 counts of inhaling = 6 counts of exhaling).
  • As you do your breathing, you may want to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and solidly connected to the ground. Extend your arms out to each side with palms facing upward. (Put your arms down to your side if they get tired.)

How long should you do this?

In ancient times, the kahuna would gather and do continuous "ha" breathing for days at a time, taking turns to build up energy for any big project. To increase and balance energy for yourself, I recommend "ha" breathing for several minutes each day and longer if you face a situation that will require more energy.

Consistent ha breathing gives the brain and body the oxygen they need to stay alive and alert, and ancient Hawaiians also believed that it drew in the four energies—fire, water, earth, and air.

When you need a boost, stop and spend a few minutes focusing on your ha breath.

Dr. Matt

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