Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Catch Your Breath

A video of B.K.S Iyengar demonstrating Ujaii breathing. Not every pranayam is going to be as deep and wide as Mr. Iyengar's, nor does it need to be. The key is to keep practicing.

Last week I was a student in a yoga class, and the teacher said, "It isn't a yoga class unless pranayama is part of it." I wholeheartedly agree.

Pranayama is designed to calm the nervous system, all 6,000 miles coiled within each being, before engaging in the postures and meditation. My classes almost always begin with it, and it is a thread throughout asana.

Off the mat, when you are stressed and you catch yourself breathing shallowly or even holding your breath, remind yourself to breathe, inhaling and exhaling fully. It takes 10-20 breaths to recalibrate. This is especially good to do when you're in traffic or waiting in line at the grocery store or dealing with angry people. Breathing mindfully will bring you back to yourself.

Here is an easy breathing exercise you can do when you find a quiet moment in your day. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.

I am enough, in this moment.
I breathe into being enough.
Today I am enough.
Today I have enough.
Today I do enough.
There is nothing missing. In this moment, I am whole. I experience wholeness.
I am complete. I experience completeness.
Breathe into your wholeness, through your nose, breathing deeply and slowly to your body base.
Pause to experience this sense of fullness.
Slowly exhale, offering your wholeness to the whole world, blazing a deep and generous trail back up and through your body and through your nose.
Pause to enjoy the satisfaction of emptying yourself of the best you have to offer.
Breathe in again and experience the gratitude that is inhalation, sipping the breath through your body.
Pause to enjoy the wonder of fullness. You are full. You are satisfied. You are whole.
Exhale slowly, offering all that you gained during your inhalation to the people you love, to the people you don't currently love but can now afford to love, to people you have never met.
Pause to enjoy how receiving deeply and gratefully allows you to give deeply and gratefully.
Continue for at least ten more breaths.
Repeat as needed.


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