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Vagal Breathing Technique © developed by Erin May

Vagal Breathing ~ enhances vagal tone, activating our healing system. Just 5 minutes a day can make a huge difference. 11 mins a day will balance the endocrine system. 25 mins a day will balance blood pressure. Practicing in the morning will erase anxiety and prepare you for your day, at night before bed will smooth out your mind for a more restful sleep. If you practice mid-afternoon during the natural circadian rhythm drop you will be less likely to give in to unhealthy coping strategies later in the evening. a.k.a. chips & cookies...

Part 1. Sit comfortably in a warm room or cover yourself with a blanket. Pick a hand position that feels right. Maybe hands on the heart. Close your eyes and observe your natural breath. The breath is usually high and the idea is to gently and gradually lower it down to the bottom of your lungs and then to the belly.

Allow your belly to expand on the inhale and let your belly sink back towards your spine on the exhale. Continue with this step until it feels easy and natural, eventually breathing down to the front of the tip of your tailbone. This is where the ganglion of Impar is located—the reset button for all of your systems.

Part 2.  As you inhale through the nose create ujjayi breath or ocean breath by drawing the breath in to the back of the sinus cavity. It feels like you are touching the back of your throat with your breath. This will create a soft sound like a gentle ocean wave.

Exhaling through the mouth with a soft "haaa" sound like you are misting your glasses to clean them.
Creating soft sounds signals the feeling of safety to the Vagal system, as does listening to the soft sounds you are making. Allow the exhale to become longer than the inhale- this is the key. This increases CO2 levels which creates biochemical balance. These soft sounds are stimulating the ventral vagal system.

Part 3. If your mind is busy—at the top of the gentle inhale pause your inhalation for about three seconds.
Then slowly exhale the breath out through the mouth allowing the exhalation to lengthen as you relax. When you get to the bottom of the exhale coast for a few seconds or as long as what is comfortable . This time will increase as you relax, the longer the exhale and coasting, the more CO2, the deeper the vagal state.

Part 4. Once you are established in the breathing technique you can try the next step.
Gently open your eyes 1/10th and focus on a point in front of you on the floor. Try to keep the eyes still. With our eyes slightly open the vagal system will reset to a more relaxed state while you are in your day–to–day living. Continue with the breathing pattern with eyes slightly open.

Part 5. To finish Close your eyes and return to natural breathing. Be curious to notice as you start naturally breathing if the breath stays low in your belly.  Wait a few minutes before opening your eyes. This resets your vagal point. Notice any changes internally and externally.

With regular Vagal Breathing practice people report being calmer, more focused, healthier, happier, smoother, lighter and pain free. This technique can also be done reclining, or propped up on pillows. Reclining version will help people to fall asleep and is particularly effective to fall back asleep after waking during the night.

Erin May, Founder & CEO, Advanced Structural Integration Practitioner and 1000+hr Certified Yoga Instructor has been teaching movement classes, pilates, yoga, meditation and practicing bodywork for 28 years. She studied in Boulder
Colorado and returned to Thunder Bay in 1995 to open The Bodymind Centre (BMC), a multifaceted holistic wellness centre that focuses on the mind – body connection in health, helping people to optimize their lives. She is the mother of two children Sky and Ocean. Erin teaches Vagal Yoga classes at The BMC as well as giving seminars in the community. She leads monthly Vagal Yoga Meditation retreats at The BMC and Vagal Yoga retreats in Mexico. She has a special Vagal protocol for children that she shares in the school system.

Contact for corporate, group bookings or private sessions: 807-344-1628 BMC  

Visit for more information, retreats and videos of vagal breathing,
eye patterns and other vagal techniques.

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