Instagram Video of Breath of Joy demonstration here:

Generally speaking, when we hear people talking about the nervous system it’s in the interest of finding ways to calm it down. Perhaps you’ve heard of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest)? There’s a lot of talk about ways to regulate when we’re in fight or flight mode, but what about the need to awaken and liven our system? Is there a need for such?

Do you struggle with awakening in the morning? Or perhaps you’ve fallen into a dark state of depression and find yourself in a daze or somewhat catatonic? Breath of Joy is a somatic exercise that helps to stimulate your sympathetic nervous system and get  energy flowing. This movement, along with simultaneous breaths, can help to warm up the body, oxygenate your blood, and get your circulation going. Breath of Joy moves chi (energy) throughout your body, and the forceful exhalation at the end aids in releasing stress. Afterward, most of my clients report feeling awakened and focused and then more calm and relaxed as the parasympathetic nervous system starts to come online shortly thereafter.

  1. Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart, parallel, and with a soft bend of the knees.
  2. Imagine your lungs filling up in three parts during this exercise – lower, halfway, and then full. With the first arm motion, you will synchronize your first brief inhale through the nose, raising your arms out front.
  3. For your second brief in-breath through the nose, you will simultaneously expand your arms wide out to your sides.
  4. On the third brief in-breath, you will bring your arms back inward and then up above your head – all in one motion. The exercise is intended to move quickly.
  5. With a swift downward motion of your arms, you will release your breath through your mouth with a “HAA!”
  6. Repeat the above steps for 1-3 minutes.

As always, respect your body and any signals of discomfort received and stop if needed. If you have untreated high blood pressure or suffer with any head or eye issues, this may not be a helpful practice for you.