Breath, or pranayama, is one of the most important pillars of a yoga practice. In fact, I would argue to say it’s the most important. Breath moves us through postures and stokes and soothes us. Breath can work to slow down the heart rate, warm up the body, and soothe the mind.
Let’s practice…(read the following in it’s entirety then give it a try OR have someone read it to you)
Inhale for a count of three, pause at the top of your inhale, then exhale for a count of three. Make these breaths long, slow, full inhales. Empty out totally and completely in your exhales. Do this for 3-4 rounds. Inhale - 2 - 3...pause...Exhale - 2 - 3. Now, lengthen your breath. Inhale and exhale for a count of four in the same fashion. Close your eyes and focus completely on your breath and your count. As you breath in, KNOW that you are breathing in. As you breath out, KNOW that you are breathing out. Be present for your breathwork practice as that will translate to being present in your life. Lengthen your breath even more now. Breathe in for a count of five, retain your breath, then exhale for a count of five. Close your eyes and feel the space you’ve created. Feel your torso expand in all directions during your inhales and empty completely as you exhale. Practice this counted breath for 2-3 rounds then return to your natural breath.
This breathe exercise is called counted or “balancing” breath. With even inhales and exhales, it works to steady the body and the mind. This practice is usually done seated or lying down while in a grounding position as it is a grounding breath.
While practicing, not only feel your breath, but listen to it. Listen to it rise and fall like ocean waves and allow it to be the anchor of your practice. It will become the root of your practice, and as you try other types of breathwork, you will have several tools to use.
I used this particular breath (balancing breath) while traveling last year. I was in Thailand and the brakes went out on the motorcycle I had rented. Fortunately, I got the motorcycle to stop, but my heart rate and blood pressure were quite elevated while I was on the side of the road waiting for help. What did I do? I breathed. I used this balancing, grounding breath to soothe myself and ground myself. It didn’t take long to return to a sense of peace. Breathwork is a wonderful tool both on and off your mat.
By Liz Skarvelis; All Rights Reserved @2017