A breathing technique to manage pain: golden thread breath
Over the years, I have spoken to a number of guests here at the retreat about possible approaches to try to help manage pain. There are many different ways to manage pain, and I always like to use natural techniques and approaches where possible. For example, what we eat can make a difference, but so too can our breathing and that is what I am going to look at today in this article: golden thread breath to help manage pain.
Many years ago I was fortunate to come across a book written by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli (called Mother’s Breath), which included a breathing technique (pranayama) using imagery of a golden thread. Whilst this technique was in the section for use during labour and birth, it struck me that if it helps manage pain during that process, it must be useful for dealing with pain from other causes, so I gave it a go.
I have found this pranayama useful over the years, using it anytime I experienced chronic pain (for example when I had endometriosis pain it really helped) and thought I would share it here on our blog.
Often when we are in pain, whether it is acute pain (short lived) or chronic, we tighten our muscles and constrict our breathing. This is the body’s natural response to try to protect you. The pranayama (breathing technique) described here today can help to counter-balance this reaction. By allowing our focus to come to our breath, allowing ourselves to soften, we can help to reduce our focus on the pain, so it can subside.
How to practice golden thread breath
Find a comfortable position – there is no need to sit crossed legged on the floor, if you are in pain, find a position that works for you, so that your body is supported and you can start to allow yourself to relax.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath in through your nose and then exhale through the mouth, releasing the breath. Repeat this twice more.
Take a big yawn, and move your jaw around, to encourage the jaw to start to soften.
Now, take a moment to connect in to your natural breath.
Part your lips slightly (imagine you have a piece of paper between the lips).
Inhale through your nose.
Exhale out slowly through your lips, a long slow gentle breath, and as you do so, imagine a golden thread coming out of your mouth.
Inhale and then on your next exhale, breath out slowly through your lips. Use a gentle, long thin breath and imagine the length of the golden thread growing.
Keep this going for 5 minutes, or longer if you need.
Focus on an area with golden thread breath
If you experience pain in a particular area, you can use this technique with a focused attention.
As you inhale, imagine the breath coming into the area where you are feeling the pain. Imagine your breath is bringing softness, gentleness and relief.
As you exhale, breathe out slowly, finely through the lips, imagining the golden thread growing, and at the same time imagine the golden thread removing the pain, little by little.
Help with getting comfy in meditation
If you struggle to be able to sit or find a comfortable position to practice your pranayama, you might like to read our earlier article: tips on how to sit in meditation.
Pranayama and yoga retreats
Pranayama (breath control techniques) can be an important part of a yoga class here at La Crisalida Retreats. There are many health benefits to breathing fully and you can read more about this in our earlier article: yoga breathing, how to breath in yoga and what are the benefits.
Dirga pranayama (three part breathing) can help us to come into the present moment, and can be practiced in your yoga class, or sitting in a traffic jam!
On retreat you will have the opportunity to practice different breathing techniques outdoors, on our stunning yoga terrace. Read more about yoga retreats La Crisalida here.
I hope you find this technique as useful as I did.
About the author
- Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).