Stair Step Breath (anuloma and viloma krama) is a core practice in LifeForce Yoga. Stair Step combines breath and imagery to gently energize while focusing the mind. Use stair step breath in bed to help wake you up, in the afternoon as a short break, before meetings, after interactions, at the beginning of a yoga practice or therapy session, the times for practice are endless. Free audio practice after the directions.
Directions for Practice
Note: Do not practice if you have had recent abdominal or chest surgery. Practice only on the inhalation if you are pregnant. The language and imagery here have been adapted for a health care setting.
- In a seated or supine position, inhale through the nostrils little steps of breath, as though you are climbing a mountain (usually 4 to 8).
- If it’s comfortable, sustain the breath for four counts (at the top of the mountain). Imagine that you are looking out at something beautiful. If holding the breath is uncomfortable, breathe naturally through the nostrils.
- Slide down the mountain. (Exhale slowly for six counts.)
- Practice steps 1–3 two times.
- Next take an elevator to the top of the mountain. (a smooth six-count breath in).
- Sustain for four counts. Imagine you can see something that makes your heart smile.
- Then step down the mountain (exhale through the nostrils in little puffs—usually 6 to 10).
- Practice steps 4–7 two times.
- Next take little steps up the mountain through the nostrils, as described above, pause for four counts with an image of beauty in your heart’s mind.
- Take little steps down the mountain, as described in #7. Practice this version of stepped breathing in and out two times.
- End by taking little steps up the mountain, sustaining the breath for four, then slowly glide down the mountain. You might wish to chant the mantra “so ham” (I am That) on the exhalation.
Stair Step Breath for Energy Audio Practice:
The recording below is a led practice of Stair Step that is suitable for someone suffering from the effects of depression. Use when struggling with lack of energy during the day or first thing in the morning. During the practice, you will be guided through a four count pause of the breath. Do what feels appropriate for you, taking a breath if you need one, but encouraging yourself to try sustaining the breath. The practice also contains the direction to “see something beautiful,” “see something that makes your heart smile,” etc. You may wish to come up with an image before practicing, or let it be spontaneous. If you do not see imagery, then find a word that supports your practice (calm-strength, or energy), or cultivate a desired feeling in the body (like energy). Enjoy!
An example of Stair Step Breath in a clinical setting: http://yogafordepression.com/supporting-psychotherapists-yoga-for-depression-in-a-clinical-setting/
Stair Step is taught in all LifeForce Yoga weekend workshops. The LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training program provides a deeper immersion into practices like Stair Step and offers tools to adapt the practices to you and your clients’ needs. View the list of upcoming training programs here.
Audio Practice led by Rose Kress, ERYT-500, LFYP-2, YACEP, Director of LifeForce Yoga