It is common, almost colloquial, that when you ask someone to take a deep breath or relax and enjoy a sweet, conscious breath that they will begin on an inhale. As soon as you make the invitation to do so, the person almost instantly begins to breathe in. However, this may be counter-intuitive to what is actually most beneficial for stress reduction, creating relaxation and inducing states of calmness. When we inhale, our heart beats faster; as we exhale our heartbeat slows down. This is general but true and so, think about it. We live in a society where we are constantly moving fast and everything from our communication devices to the marketing in front of our eyes makes for a steadily fast-paced rhythm in our world. Therefore wouldn't it make sense to exhale first, so as to slow the heart rate down, empty the lungs out to create an excellent space and then breathe?
Beginning a conscious breathing practice on an inhale often keeps a person in the same state they were just in for a longer period of time, however exhaling first creates a feeling of letting go and surrendering to the moment and all that is. Start to practice this consciously and take a few moments in the day that are comprised of just taking a few deep breaths to relax or put on a favorite breathing exercise. From here on out, however, I invite you to exhale first every time. To begin, let go and expel the breath inside you by blowing it out until you are empty. As you create space for the next fresh breath to enter and fill, check-in with your posture and adjust into what you would consider excellent posture. We all have different body types, shapes and sizes, but there is a relative excellent posture that allows you to expand your breathing apparatus correctly and efficiently. This allows you therefore to deliver Life Force into your body efficiently.
Go ahead and try it and see which one feels more relaxing. Right now, take a moment and choose a favorite breathing exercise or take three deep, slow breaths, BUT begin by exhaling a set-up breath to begin. When you're done, try the same thing but do it without the exhale first and see how different it is. When doing activation/energizing breathing exercises, I often like to begin on an inhale. In every other instance of entering a conscious breathing practice or technique, I prefer everything about the sensation of exhaling first. Once you try it for yourself, you may see why and choose to enjoy this one simple, powerful tip for the rest of your life.