I had forgotten about the whistle breath (also called beak breath). Actually, I don’t remember ever doing whistle breath in a class outside of my 2006 Kundalini Yoga teacher training.
Then a couple of weeks ago I wanted to bring in a new pranayama practice to my Tuesday Hips & Shoulders gang. I looked through all of my books and found the whistle breath. We did it at the beginning of class and It was so much fun to practice together that I wanted to share it with you.
Students remarked at how they loved the sound of everyone whistling together. I thought to myself that this would be a great pranayama for beginner students who might be shy about sounding.
Benefits of Whistle Breath
- Increases lung capacity – with the pursed lips the inhales and exhales are lengthened
- Cooling and relaxing – similar to Sitali/Sitkari Pranayama, where the air moves across the tongue
- Stimulates the vagus nerve with the pursed lips action
- Activates the thyroid and parathyroid glands
- Calming to the nervous system – as with any breath practice where we slow down the inhale/exhale
- Gives focus – the whistle sound allows the practitioner to notice the steady sound
How to Do Whistle Breath
- Sit with a straight spine either in Easy Pose on the floor or up on a chair. Check in that the knees are lower than the hips and find what is comfortable for you. If the knees are not relaxed down, then bring the floor up – with cushions or blankets.
- Close your eyes and focus on your third eye point, by rolling the eyes gently up as though you could look between your eyebrows.
- With each inhale, purse the lips and make a whistle sound. Exhale through the nose.
- Focus on the sound of the whistle.
- If you become dizzy or light headed cease the breath practice, returning to long deep breathing.
Yogi Bhajan says that this breath, if practiced for three minutes per day, will bring relaxation.
Other Variations of Whistle Breath
Whistle breath can involve the whistle sound on the inhale, on the exhale or on both the inhale and the exhale. See what version you like best. Notice how each variation feels for you.
Another variation of this breath is the Gyan Mudra Kriya – (this link offers a printable version). I am going to try it in one of my summer classes. Let me know what breath practice you are using in your yoga classes or home practice.