What Does Double Breathing Do?


Can you throw some light on the double breathing technique? How does it increase our energy?

—Gopal Pandey, India


Gopal, the “double” and sharp inhalation breath energizes sensitive nerves in the nasal passages. The middle and upper reaches of the nasal passages are associated with the conscious mind and the extra-alert executive function leading toward the superconscious mind. The sharp inhalation requires a kind of wrinkling of the nose or tightening of the nose around the middle and upper parts thus resulting in a kind of “sharp kick” to these higher, more alert functions.

While I’ve yet to come across a more precise physiological explanation, the double inhalation feels as if it impacts the brain and alertness immediately, at least by comparison with, for example, a long slow, diaphragmatic inhalation. It’s almost as if the impact goes directly to the frontal lobes of the brain in the area of the spiritual eye. I like to describe this as an “espresso substitute!” It’s not unlike the impact of the green hot sauce “wasabi!” A real KICK, in other words.

The tensing of the muscles of the body during the inhalation immediately draws the inhalation-induced oxygenated blood to the various body cells even as it squeezes out and decarbonizes the cells with the subsequent double exhalation through the mouth (and nose).

By contrast the longer, slower pranayams (nadi shodanam, and measured diaphragmatic breathing) do the same in a slower pace. They bring more calm and peace while the double breath bestows a heightened feeling of wakefulness and energy.

The rapid exhalation and decarbonization through the double exhalation is a forceful reduction of carbon and has an instant slowing, quieting or even stopping of the heart (however briefly). Thus the immediate effect after the exhalation is a moment of potential breathlessness. This in itself is highly rejuvenating to the cells, nervous system and brain.

Once again I repeat that these effects are, in various degrees, to be found in most pranayams but the double breath is more forceful and immediate. There are versions or variations of this to be found in parts of more traditional pranayams taught down through the centuries.

“Tense with will! Relax and feel!”

In Joy,
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA