Really the question is: Are you breathing as deeply as your body craves?
Have you ever noticed that, no matter your intention, after a few minutes in front of the television or the computer you slouch further and further forward as your breath becomes shallower than a baby pool?
I have. I teach yoga for a living and it still happens to me. It just seems to be the nature of these boxes with flashing images that we use so often nowadays. It takes vigilance to remember we even have a body, let alone that we can consciously use it for greater health and happiness. I’m not criticizing here, it’s just how it is for many of us modern humans.
We need to take back our breath! Breath is the key to everything in a yoga practice. And I’ll extend that to include life. Breath can calm us when we’re upset, enhance a pleasant experience, heal our injuries, help muscles to stretch, move energy; the list goes on.
Over the past year I’ve begun to understand that when I’m breathing deeply I’m in feeling and when I’m in feeling I tend to practice my yoga with better form (this means less injury!). When I come down from practicing handstand my breath enhances the fluttery excitement of being upside down. It helps me to feel like a kid again. Make sense? Breath is awareness. Greater awareness leads to more freedom. And if you crave freedom, like me, deepening your relationship to your breath is something simple you can do to move into that freedom.
Wanna try it out? Here are 2 exercises you can do once per day or more. Remember 5-minutes everyday will do so much more than not doing anything at all!
Exercise #1: Conscious Breath
Inhale for a slow 6 count. Hold your breath for a slow 6 count. Exhale for a slow 6 count. Repeat for 3-5 minutes. Sit in a comfortable position. Use as much or as little support as you’d like. When you breathe focus your mind on the sensations of the breath moving in and out of your nose. If you know Ujayii breath use it, if not, just breathe nasally. If you are pregnant, don’t hold your breath. Same goes for the next exercise.
Exercise #2: Surya Bhedana or Right Nostril Breathing
Using your right hand draw your first two fingers in towards the palm. Close your left nostril with your ring finger. Inhale for a slow 6 count through right nostril. Close right nostril with thumb and hold the breath for a slow 6 count. Open left nostril and exhale for a slow 6 count. Close left nostril with ring finger and immediately open right nostril, inhale for a slow 6 count. The instructions repeat from there. Do this continuously for 3-5 minutes. Use a timer so you don’t have to think about it.
Surya Behdna is like yogic coffee. It will increase your energy and mental focus. And it does work, but the longer you do it, the better the result.
Try it out and let me know how it goes for you below! And if you know anyone that might benefit from these exercises, send them my way. The more, the merrier.