Colour breathing is a form of meditation that uses colour visualisation to promote positive feelings and wellbeing. It can be used as a standalone practice or at the end of a yoga or Pilates session.
The idea behind colour breathing is to focus on specific colours during meditation to encourage associations with that colour to flood the body. Psychologists have long held the notion that different colours evoke different feelings or moods, and there is clearly some truth to this idea. For example, a blue sky on a sunny day is more likely to make you feel happier than a grey sky on a dull day.
Putting colour breathing into practice
The beauty of colour breathing is that it’s a relatively simple but effective form of meditation that anyone can master. In fact, many people claim that by concentrating on a colour during meditation it’s easier to stop your mind from wandering than having nothing to focus on.
All you need to do is have some idea of what effects different colours have. There are plenty of charts and books available that describe colour associations and mood, but allow yourself to also be your guide. Colours can have different meanings to different people and cultures, so explore how you react to various shades.
You need to think about how you want to feel after the end of the colour breathing session. Typically, you might want to feel relaxed, free from anxiety, energised, motivated, more confident or more focused in your life.
Get to know which colours are associated with your desired emotions. For example, red is said to promote energy, motivation and confidence. Orange encourages feelings of optimism, strength and self-esteem, so may be useful for those suffering from stress, bereavement or depression. Blue invokes calm and relaxation, so is a good choice for those experiencing insomnia, while pink can promote a sense of compassion and affection, making it a worthwhile colour choice to focus on if you’re experiencing difficult relationships.
Once you’ve chosen a colour, the idea is to find somewhere to sit that is quiet, calm and free from distractions. As you breathe in through your nose for two to three seconds, you then hold your breath for a single second, and breathe out through your mouth to the count of four. As you breathe in and out, you visualise your chosen colour as a mist that enters your nose and floods your body, as you release it out again on your exhaled breath.
If you struggle to visualise the colour as a mist, you can always view it in a more simplified or recognisable way. For instance, if you choose green, you could visualise green grass, or for blue, a blue sky is an obvious example.
As you breathe the colour in and out, you should slowly notice how that colour makes you feel. It can take some practice before you get into the swing of things so don’t expect to get into the colour zone straightaway.
If you find that some colours aren’t producing the desired effects, try other combinations. For example, if you’re focusing on red to improve your energy levels, it could be that feelings of stress are blocking your energy, in which case, it might be preferable to visualise stress-reducing colours such as green or blue first.
Scientists are still unsure how colour affects mood exactly, but, either way, spending time focusing on your breathing is proven to have mind and body benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, heart rate and levels of stress.