Moving into Stillness

“Stillness is not the absence or negation of energy, life, or movement. Stillness is dynamic. It is unconflicted movement, life in harmony with itself, skill in action. It can be experienced whenever there is total, uninhibited, unconflicted participation in the moment you are in—when you are wholeheartedly present with whatever you are doing.”

~ Erich Schiffman – Yoga the Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness

I love the dynamism in this description of what stillness is. It becomes clear when yoga is a contemplative and spiritual practice, rather than a series of postures in an exercise class.

Stillness is not the same as exhaustion at the end of class when you lie in Savasana (corpse pose), perhaps filled with relief that it is over! Stillness is something that can be found throughout the practice and within each posture and transition along the way.

The best guide to see if you are moving towards stillness, is to notice if you are breathing steadily and fully throughout the practice.

Bringing awareness to our breath and the teacher’s breath reveals a lot. If the teacher can’t catch their breath to speak and guide you in a mindful way, then they aren’t moving into stillness either.

* Haiku – a breath or two

Just breathe

Photo from Fine Art America

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Rest in this moment

It just takes a breath or two

Find Your Middle Ground

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If you are new to this site, welcome!

Please click on the following links to find our more about finding your middle ground and the steps to take you there.

 

* Breathe from your Middle Ground

I am recovering from a lingering cold which has zapped the energy for several days. Today I’m finally breathing better and feeling more like my self again. It makes me appreciate my ability to breathe even more!

I’ve written before about how our breath is connected with our wellbeing and emotional state. Noticing how we are breathing is a tool that we can use to monitor how we are doing.

There is an other pause that comes with our breath which is also revealing. The pause at the end of the exhale before we take in more air. When we are distracted, stressed or in an anxious state, there is no pause. We don’t trust we have enough air  and we don’t allow ourself to relax and let go.

Just take a moment to tune into how you are breathing right now. Just notice without judgment.

Breathe and relax

Pausing at the end of an exhale can only happen when we are relaxed and in tune with our mind and body. When our body and mind are aligned in the present moment.

This is what I do to check in with myself. Its a great yardstick on my level of relaxation to life in that moment.

Are you rushing in the air and holding on before letting go? Gasping in!

Are you afraid to let go on the exhale? Holding on!

Or are you aware of a special silent space. This is when you realize that there is no rush… Where you can rest in this pause that takes you past the fear of not enough to the realization that there is more than enough. This is often a place of struggle … which can be transformed to a place of peace and inner expansion.

Its impossible to try to do it. It requires being relaxed and open to let it happen.

To become relaxed, take several full diaphragmatic breaths. Breath in through your nose and let yourself release with a sigh on the exhale.

Keep breathing deeply.

Allow your shoulders to relax. Allow your belly to soften.

Release effort and allow your body to absorb the energy and nourishment.

Notice any tension and imagine sending your breath there to let it release and flow.

Imagine you are softening your whole body and mind … almost like melting.

Now see if you can allow yourself to pause and rest at the end of the exhale… without any effort whatsoever.

Just for a moment, be with this stillness and spaciousness. Trust that it is always within you.

Namaste

 

* Your Breath is How you Live your Life

Do you know how are you breathing right now?

Take a moment and simply notice your breath. Perhaps place your hand on your navel and the other above your heart.  Notice the movement as you inhale and exhale.

breath awareness

We breathe in and we breathe out. And for the most part we take it completely for granted.
Until something happens such as asthma, a cold, allergies or worse. When we notice it is difficult to breathe we appreciate it so much more.

How we breathe is not only a reflection of the health of our lungs, but also a reflection on how we live our life.

Did you know that our breath is connected to our emotional state?

When we feel:

Panic – It is short, fast, shallow breaths. Trying to get more air in by speeding up.

Anxious – It is shallow breaths seeking more reassuring air.

Tense – We hold onto the inhaled air, pausing at the top of the inhale before we let it be released, sometimes with a sigh.

Anger – It is long forced inhales and exhales. Fueling the flames like a bellows.

Calm – It is slow and steady breaths becoming shallower with relaxation.

Happy – It is long inhalations and long exhalations. Slowing it all down.

Did you also know we can change our emotional state by changing our breath? We can bring mindful awareness to our breath and create the emotional state that we seek.

Practitioners of Meditation and Yoga have done this for millennia – using awareness of the breath to come into the present moment, and bring about a more relaxed and centered state of being.

Science shows that when we slow the breath it signals to the brain and the parasympathetic nervous system that everything is well. No need to be on guard … its okay to relax and restore your natural balance.

So if we want to alleviate stress and become calm, slowing the breath works!

Try counting between 4 to 6 in your mind for each inhale and exhale. It can really make a difference. Why not set aside a few minutes and try it for yourself. It may feel awkward and take some practice but your body, mind and emotions will thank you for it.

Bringing awareness to our breathing is such a valuable guide to how we live our lives in that moment. With awareness of this comes choice. Please click here to explore more about your breath.

If you want to live your life fully then practice breathing fully.

Namaste

Breathe Well and Be Well

There is something so well known in the yoga world that we often take it for granted. To the world outside of yoga, it can be a revelation.

deep breathingThe ancient yogis knew the power of our breath and the energy behind it for calming us, energizing us, opening up spaciousness in us and healing ourselves physically and emotionally. They also believed that if we slowed down our breath we would live longer….

There is now research being done in Europe as to the power of our breath for healing and reducing anxiety and depression. The hope is to prove that breathing therapy is a cheaper and healthier alternative to drugs. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? For us yes! For the Pharmaceutical companies, not so good!

pranayama breathingYoga breathing is called Pranayama.

Prana means life force. We bring Prana into our body through our breathing, as well as our senses. Ayama means expansion, while yama means control.
So Pranayama is the expansion of the life force in our body through regulating our breath.

As we deepen and harmonize our breathing we also slow it down, which in turn calms down the autonomic nervous system and our stress response.

There are different Pranayama practices that can bring about altered physical, mental, and emotional states. Some of them are quite energetic and transformational and take years of practice. Caution is advised when trying to do the advanced practices.

I think because of this risk, many of the calming and soothing practices, which are completely safe, may have been overlooked.

breathe

I’m happy to share some simple breathing awareness exercises on the main pages. Please click here to begin your exploration of your breath.

My hope is that it will begin to transform how you breath, and how you feel.

It starts with tuning into your own breath. Getting a base line of how you breathe, and then gradually deepening it and slowing it down.

Aahh…. now that feels so good…. and does a body good!