Discovery Breathing Practice

Discovery Breathing Practice

Knowing, Not Knowing & The Unknowable

The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life—Confucius.

I have received some profound wisdom through the practice of what I call 'discovery breathing'. I have noted many variations that support my mental health when questions, anxiety, fear, stuckness and dread are present.

I've found myself in a space of stuck & stickiness lately - at home with Covid narrowed down my world and it seemed to get narrower, my steps got shorter, my brain became smaller, the News became scarier - I felt like I was submerged under the Earth and did not recognise anything at all, especially this kind of fear I was feeling.

As I emerge from under the floorboards, I am full of life thankfully, and many questions are bubbling up - 

Sometimes I get up and get stuck - I turn around and chew over options, unsure which direction to take, not trusting my decisions, and where information about the world comes from, and how anything can be certain.

And of course, there are few constants like gravity and death - I guess I never felt it's fragility before so globally

i started to ask some silly questions -

1. What do I know?

2. What is true?

3. How much do I need to know to live a rich and joyful life?

Part of the adventure is the shifting and changing kaleidoscopic experience of being on Planet Earth. 

It's all about how to be with knowing, not knowing and of course, the unknoweable. Ah, the unknowable makes me pause and smile. The mysteries of the universe, the invisible magic and clues all around. 

If I can be OK with the unknowable, then what if I could be with the unknown in the same way. 

I pause again and create a clear space, a clearing in a mind full of trying to find the answers. After all, if I was a 'know it all', there would not be room for anything new to emerge, my mind to be open to change, simply striving, following a direction that may well be out of date. 

Discovery Breathing Practice

Here is a breathing practice I developed to help me move from thinking, catastrophising, feelings of dread and being out of control to...well try it and see where it takes you...

Step 1

  • Lie prone on your front on a yoga mat, yoga nidra mat or a surface with a little softness underneath, not too much.  You should be completely comfortable
  • Make a pillow for your forehead with your hands so there is space for your jaw and mouth to soften
  • Open your mouth, stick your tongue out,  move your facial muscles - have fun pulling some faces.
  • You can make sound to go with the face - laughing, hissing, sighing, crying - go ahead and express whatever comes through you
  • With a few long Exhales, relax your face, jaw, tongue, shoulders, hands, hips, feet
  • Bring your attention to the ground where it meets your body
  • Feel your navel connecting to Mother Earth as you breath in and out of the belly
  • Increase the length of the exhale to settle deeper into the support assisted by gravity

Step 2

  • Focus on your nostrils and the temperature of the air at the nostrils
  • Take control of your breathing to create an even, deeper experience
  • Direct your inhale from Right nostril to Right side of the brain
  • As the inhale turns to an exhale, cross the threshol of the right hemsiphere of the brain to the left
  • Exhale from left brain to left nostril
  • Inhale left nostril to left brain
  • Pause as you take your attention to right side
  • exhale right brain to right nostril
  • inhale right - continue to transfer to otehr side at the top of the inhale in the brain
  • Hold your attention steady on this practice for 2 more minutes
  • Take a few long breaths, move position if you need to, check your face and jaw for any tension, come back to your natural breath and notice the effects.

Note: when you you've noticed that you have lost your focus and your mind has wandered off, keep harnessing your attention to come back - it doesn't matter how many times you do this over 2 minutes. 

Step 3

Before you continue to take control of the breath again,  find an image for clearing out old beliefs from a over-full mind - i use something like of a fridge or a cupboard, a cluttered room or even your full mind or heavy body.

  • Start to take control of the breath again, inhaling through both nostrils, pausing at the top of the breath, and exhaling through both nostrils, and pausing at the end of the breath as you wait for the new breath to emerge
  • As you exhale, I remove, clear out (an old jar that mouldy and is past it's sell-by-date, a weight in the body that drops with gravity)
  • As you breathe in, find a way into the space where the jar/weight used to be
  • On the exhale, continue to clear out, blow out, lighten the load, wipe off, clean
  • At the end of the exhale, pause in the gap of not doing and waiting
  • On the inhale, continue to breathe into more and more clear space 
  • At the top of the inhale, pause in the fullness of space and openness
  • Continue for 2 minutes, then let go of manipulating the breath and let the breath breath you

Step 4 

If you feel sleepy or uncomfortable, come up slowly to a comfortable seated position where you can remain alert and present

  • Let go of all effort to sit a certain way
  • Let go of any need to follow the breath
  • Let go of any trying to focus on controlling your mind
  • Let go of being mindful of anything arising in your body
  • Surrender into being held, being breathed
  • Feel into space inside the body and beyond merging
  • Drop into what is present
  • Trust that everything is as it should be whatever arises

I have received some profound wisdom through the practice of what I call 'discovery breathing'. I have noted many variations that support my mental health when anxiety, fear, stuckness and dread are present.

I would love to know what you discovered. If you'd like to connect with me, email to set up a discovery call.

Check out the next FREE yoga therapy taster, workhops and courses at

Discovery breathing with Judy Hirsh Sampath