Breathe well and you will find your Middle Ground.
I love to breathe! Its what attracted me to yoga and keeps me passionate about how yoga and mindfulness can transform us.
Without breathing fully, our yoga practice becomes simply a workout. Rather than calming the mind and soothing the body it can have the opposite affect. Yoga is the practice of connecting movement to our breath and moving the prana, or life energy through the body. In this practice we release tension and blocks from our body – and our mind – and come to a natural state of balance and peace.
The content here is to help bring awareness to how you breathe. Its the foundation for mindful breathing to alleviate stress, reduce anxiety and to live a full and healthy life.
It begins with becoming aware of your breath:
STEP ONE – OBSERVING
Take a few moments to prepare yourself. Sit comfortably. Relax.
Begin by simply observing your breath. Get your own natural baseline.
Place one hand on your belly and the other above your heart.
Notice the rise and fall as you breathe in and out.
Let the wave of breath flow down to below your navel.
Feel that long slow wave of breath.
Now placing both hands just below the navel. Breathe as if your breath can reach your palms.
Notice how this fills the whole body with breath.
Let your belly expand as your lungs fill with air.
Soften your body so it can open to receive the air
Let the sensation of the breath move like waves. Find your own natural rhythm and pace.
Bring attention to your belly. Imagine as you inhale, your belly is like a balloon. With each inhale it fills up with air. Use your diaphragm to expand the belly outwards creating space for the air coming in.
On the exhale allow your belly to come back towards the spine.
This is yoga breathing.
Notice – without any judgment – if this is easy for you or somewhat difficult. Breathing fully using the diaphragm takes practice.
STEP TWO – EQUAL LENGTH
Lightly bring equal length to your inhales and exhales. Silently count in your mind to ensure they are equal length.
Imagine waves coming to the shore ebbing and flowing.
Moving on to the next step in a natural smooth way
STEP THREE – SLOW IT DOWN
See if you can slow down and expand the length of both inhales and exhales. Making the waves longer let them flow more slowly.
Find the length that is expansive and opening. If you sense any struggle you have gone too far.
Don’t try, just step into this new space, accepting that what is good enough for your body is good enough for you.
In your mind count a number that feels long and strong for each exhale and inhale.
Let yourself be in the space at the end of the exhale without grasping on the intake.
STEP FOUR – EXPAND THE EXHALE
When you are ready you might want to expand your exhale making it longer than your inhale. See if you can make it twice as long.
As you release the tension in your body, allow the tension of your mind to also release with each long exhale.
Let the waves of breath flow through you.
Let the prana and life force flow through your entire body.
Come back to your natural breath and notice how you feel after this experience of mindful expansive breathing.
You can always come back to your breath to bring you to this place of centeredness and peace… Find your Middle Ground through your own breath.