Breathing. It’s something we do every day, otherwise we would cease to be. So you’d think we’d be pro’s at it by now, right?
Well, not really. Yes, we breathe therefore we are. But do we really breathe, like, deep down? Often, we are so busy running around from task to task that we don’t actually breathe properly. We breathe to stay alive, to function, to exist. But life must be about more than just existing.
Yoga is a wonderful way of connecting back to our breaths. Even just rolling out my Yoga mat ready for practise, I can feel myself begin to breathe more deeply and evenly than at any other time. As we move through our poses, we breathe in order to stretch further, expanding and contracting with the flow of breath.
But to really explore the beauty of true Yogic breath – or rather, the natural state of our breath which we have often lost the ability to utilise – we can deepen our Yoga by practising ‘Pranayama’.
Pranayama just refers to the true, deep breathing often referred to as Yogic Breath.
The Pose: Lie down on your mat, close your eyes, bend your knees and let them fall together. Place the tips of your fingers at either side of your stomach so that you will be able to feel the rise and fall of each inhalation and exhalation. Now Inhale through the nose, allowing the stomach to rise against your fingertips, visualising as you do the air moving in through the nostrils, (it can help to visualise the air as a colour), up past the diaphragm, the ribcage, the oesophagus, filling both lungs to their fullest capacity. Hold the breath for one second at the top of the breath, then repeat the process on the Exhale, visualising the breath emptying fully from both lungs, down past the oesophagus and ribcage, past the diaphragm and emptying from the stomach. You should feel the stomach move away from the fingertips at this point. Really feel like your stomach is wringing the last dregs of stale air from your body. Hold the breath for one second, then repeat the process on the next inhalation.
Repeat this process for several breaths, but don’t try to do more than about four-six breaths at first, as it can cause dizziness. You can gradually build the number of breaths each time you practise.
One final note: some Yogi’s believe that the point where you hold your breath at either end of the full inhale or exhale of breath is the point of Bliss, or Peace. Keep this in mind whilst practising your Pranayama.
Until next time,