Yoga and Pranayama: It’s all about the breath

Next time you’re feeling a little stressed by an every day event, take a pause and notice your breath. We’re often shallow, rapidly breathing, using only a small portion of the lungs or we may be actually unconsciously holding the breath.  It’s a common practice in Yoga classes; you’re holding an asana, which is challenging and instead of breathing into the pose we hold our breath and wait until the teacher announces the next asana. Quite the opposite of feeling like you’re deepening your practice!

Here are a few ways of cultivating breathing patterns, which can aid relaxation and well being.  We take an average of 17,000 breaths per day. It’s all about being conscious and present with your breath  to help to calm the ‘monkey mind’.

The fourth of the eight rungs of Yoga is Pranayama, which is regulating the breath so as to make it slow and subtle leading to the experience of the steady flow of energy (prana), which is beyond or underneath exhalation, inhalation, and the transitions between them.

Breathe Easy : When relaxed, the breath should feel like a gentle wave lapping against the shore, breathing gently in and out uninterrupted.

Imagine that you are sitting at the ocean, just where the waves come ashore. When a wave comes, it washes over you and runs up the beach. Then, the wave turns around, and recedes over you, going back to the ocean. Then, the current turns again, and another wave washes over you. Over and over, you experience this cycling process. This is like the breath, which exhales, transitions, inhales, transitions, and then starts the process again.

(Yoga Sutras of PatanJali

The Diaphragm:  In a relaxed state the diaphragm muscle descends toward to abdomen, swelling the belly and as we exhale the diaphragm releases towards the heart. Place your right hand on your belly and feel the rise and swell followed by the gentle contraction during exhalation.

Relax the neck and jaw: In times of stress we tend to scrunch up the next and tighten the jaw. Visualize Vishuddha Chakra (throat chakra) with a blue light emanating from it. Rest the tip of the tongue against the soft palate at the top of the mouth and  breath long and deep.

Exhale and release: When we’re in a relaxed state our exhalations are longer than our inhalations. Exhale completely, extending each exhalation by a few seconds.

Pause before inhaling , it’s the pause between the breaths , when the mind  is still, when peace occurs.. The moment between breaths, there lies our true Spirit or Buddha nature. Lets stop reading about it and do it. Let’s be mindful of our breath and your mind will calm down in no time leaving your soul to soar!

If your interested in finding out more about deepening your practice through Pranayama and are interested in participating in  a Soul Sanctuaries Retreat or Workshop then please contact us.

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