I distinctly remember going to see the first Star Wars movie as a kid. Walking into the semi-darkened theatre, we fumbled around the dim space searching frantically for our designated seats. Popcorn balanced precariously on skinny knees, we drank in the atmosphere and waited with anticipation. Looking up toward the huge screen in front of us, I already started to feel a sense of being transported into a different time as the magic of this experience inspired my already active imagination.
The movie started and my senses were stimulated with the sound, light and excitement of the production. I was mesmerised by the fascinating and unfamiliar characters appearing on the huge screen before me, while being deeply drawn into the story of Luke Skywalker’s battle to rescue the beautiful princess, help the Rebel Alliance, and restore freedom and justice to the Galaxy.
Whether you are a fan of the Star Wars franchise or not, there is no arguing that pop culture has catapulted the sci-fi series into the lounge rooms of most homes, making the characters and their tag lines as familiar as family.
Not only did this epic saga acquaint us with intergalactic creatures of varying appearances, it also introduced us to one of the greatest and most memorable bad guys in the galaxy – Darth Vader.
Dressed all in black and sporting a distinctive breathing style, Darth Vader later became an offbeat nickname for an ancient yogic breathing practice (pranayama) also known as Ocean Breath or Victorious Breath.
Engaging yogic breathing practices, such as Darth Vader breath, triggers the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest system that helps the body move more readily into a state of relaxation.
Darth Vader breath helps to calm the mind and can be very useful in managing negative thoughts that can often lead us to the Dark Side if left unchecked.
Engaging Darth Vader breath
Sit yourself in a very comfortable upright position, ensuring that your spine is straight and your chin is gently tucked toward your chest.
Relax your jaw and allow your teeth to separate, encouraging the tongue to rest gently in your mouth.
Allow the shoulders to relax and drop away from the ears as you feel a sense of calm flow into your body.
Rest your hands gently in your lap as you softly close your eyes and guide your awareness to your breath.
Once you have observed the natural flow of your breath for a few moments, slowly begin to transition to your Darth Vader breath.
To achieve this, imagine that you are breathing onto a pair of glasses to fog the lenses and prepare them for cleaning. The mouth is open, the throat is constricted as you make a ‘haaahh’ sound in the back of your throat.
Try to make the ‘haaahh’ sound on both your inhalation and exhalation as you continue to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Once you become comfortable with this style of breathing, continue this practice with your mouth closed.
Constricting the back of the throat helps to lengthen the breath, slowing the breath down and turning on your rest and digest system.
Bring your awareness to rest with the breath. Notice the distinctive sound of your inhale and exhale and allow yourself to be fully present with your practice. Each time that your mind is tempted away by thought, bring your awareness back to the breath.
Our busy and often overactive minds will repeatedly challenge our attention and focus for centre stage. Do not be deterred. When this occurs, simply acknowledge that you have been distracted by thought, allow the thought to melt away and come back to your breath.
Be aware within your practice that just as your heart beats and your lungs breathe, your mind will think. This is simply the activity of the mind which meditation does not aim to cease but rather, seeks to quieten.
Engaging Darth Vader breath helps you to calm the mind. It increases the space between your thoughts and shifts you toward more wholesome thought forms.
May the breath be with you.