Pranayama: The Breath
Breath is vital. Our minds can become so busy with thoughts about what could have happened and thoughts about what we think will happen. Have you ever notice your chest tighten up when these thoughts are in your head? Chances are the answer is yes. It is not natural for our brain to multitask as much as we make it. We are thinking about a future project, a past mistake, what we want for dinner, how much we want to be elsewhere, etc. and when we let these thoughts take over, our breath is compromised.
A deep and full breath is one of the best ways to come back to yourself and what is happening right now. There are a variety of breathing exercises that have different impacts. I am going to lead you through a breathing exercise that will calm your nervous system so you can think clearly and remove yourself from feelings of anxiety and depression.
Let’s get started.
Begin to pay attention to your breath without making any changes.
As you breathe, scan your body. Check into how you feel physically and emotionally. Breath into any sensation that comes up and then let it pass. Once you acknowledge these feelings, let them go.
Take a deep breath in through your nose.
Loudly breath out of your mouth.
Do this three more times.
Now, breathe into your belly for three, chest for two and shoulders for one.
Slowly let your breath out of your teeth as if you are saying, “shhh”.
Do this three more times, each time with a slower exhale than the last.
You have now taken control of your breath and sent fresh oxygen throughout your entire body.
I previously focused on inner light. You can use this same breathing exercise with using inner light as an additional tool. As you breathe into your belly, chest, and shoulders, imagine a light filling up in all three places.
Once you have completed this exercise, I encourage you to sit or lay still and notice your breath move through your body. Breath is powerful and capable of shifting even the darkest of mindsets. So take a deep inhale and loud audible to exhale multiple times a day.
The poem I shared in May ends with, “we are all just stars that have people names.” Therefore, I used it to cultivate the intention of inner light. This poem however also sparked the intention of connection. As it goes on to say, “we have calcium in our bones, iron in our brains..” the elements that make up our incredible human body are elements that make up the entire world around us. We are all connected.
I believe that power comes from both connection and knowledge. When we connect with one another, magic happens. Conflict is easier to solve, ideas are created and support is built. A connection is powerful among people, plants, and animals. What about connection within ourselves?
We constantly give energy and it is draining. I have realized the importance of recharging beyond the eight or so hours of sleep each night. Yoga is one of the best ways to connect with yourself. You will learn breathing techniques to recharge anywhere you are.
My favorite pose to connect internally is Supta Baddha Konasana.
First, lie on your back. Then place the soles of your feet to touch, so your legs are butterflied out wide. Place one hand at your heart and one on your belly. See what comes up here.
Think about this, the spring season brings us longer days. Which means, we are exposed to more light and growth and movement occur in the world around us. We begin to shed off our layers and awaken from our winter mindset. It is truly incredible what more light of the day can offer us. The arrival of spring has inspired this months theme, inner light. If we cultivate and shine our inner light, how can we move and grow? This light can be any size or color and maybe it changes from day to day. Maybe you feel and see it in specific places like your heart space or your belly, or also known as your heart chakra or sacral chakra. I encourage you to explore tuning in within. How you can do this is:
- Lay with your legs and arms out wide, or sit in a comfortable position
close your eyes
- Take a deep inhale through your nose, fill up. You should feel your breath in your belly, throat, and shoulders.
- Let your breath go, loud audible exhale.
Repeat this until you feel grounded and present. You can focus on how your breath moves in and out of your body and focus on every part of you that is touching the stable ground underneath you.
It is natural for random thoughts to pass through your mind. Acknowledge them with no judgment and then let them pass.
- Continue to breathe in and out of your nose
- Feel your light, imagine your light, let it shine through and carry it with you.
I really love this poem (to the right) by Nikita Gill in her book ‘Your Soul is a River”