Try ‘Gentle Rowing Breath’

By Marla Waal

September 2020


These days I often feel a need to dial my nervous system down. I

recognize that staying in this frenzied state will eventually, or even

immediately, take a toll on my health. If I’m able to  anchor into a

calm steady breath, my whole day could shift.


Close your eyes and imagine you are out on a calm body of water. It

could be a lake, river or ocean. Maybe you have a favourite place you

can recall? Picture yourself there in a simple row boat, canoe or

kayak. You could even be with a loved one. As you reach your paddle

forward, softly inhale without any urgency. Place your paddle in the

mirror-smoothe water and pull back in a long steady stroke. This is

your exhale. Pause your breathing as you imagine drawing your paddle

forward. Quiet, gentle inhale as you begin again. Continue this for

at least 10 breaths, soft, slow and quiet, almost invisible. Your

breathing, like your paddle leaves no mark.


When we ‘take a deep breath’, it’s often loud, labored and effortful.

This mimics our stress-breathing pattern and can keep us in our

already high stress state. As an experiment, try the ‘gentle rowing

breath’ and see which is more effective for you.


“A perfect man breathes as if he is not breathing.” – Lao Tzu


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