In stressful times, if we can just still our minds long enough to go inward and focus on our breath, a calmness and stability will be realized and stress will not have the same grip on us. The majority of people do not know how to breathe properly. The description of diaphragmatic breathing is really not correct terminology, as the diaphragm only moves up and down and only by an inch at most. Create a daily awareness of your breath using the technique below and you will make huge shifts in your life! Really, the ultimate goal is self realization. Have no expectations from your meditation practice, just allow yourself to become present and watch your life become more responsive and develop clarity. Be aware of your breath while your eating, drinking, working, reading, exercising, yoga, meditation etc…..In other words, “inform your body with your breath.” The lower portion of the lungs is where most breathing occurs. When you involve the upper portion of the lungs, now you are doing total breathing and the benefits to the body and mind will be great!
In the yoga practice, we commonly do a breathing called Ujjayi Breath. This breath is very important, as you witness your breath, your mind calms and your nervous system relaxes, and your body follows. In Ujjayi breathing, bring your focus to the vocal chords and feel a slight narrowing of the glottis, the flap of tissue in the upper throat. It’s here you will hear a soft sound in the back of the ears, like the ocean. If you have a hard time feeling this breath, try to imagine you are breathing in and out of your ears. Invite the energy of a smile across your face and relax the jaw and facial muscles. Sip the air in slowly and steadily as if you had a narrow straw space through the throat.
Try the following exercise to gain experience with the Ujjayi breath.
- Find a comfortable sitting position. This can be on the floor, elevated on a cushion or blanket or on a chair. Wherever you choose, sit with a long spine, feeling inner spinal length with your roof of your mouth, aligned over the diaphragm, and diaphragm over the pelvic floor.
- Relax your shoulders and allow the chest to expand.
- Now, close your eyes and imagine an elevator moving from the bottom of your belly to the upper sternum, filling the entire lungs with your breath on inhale. Take your time, not rushing so that you witness the breath fully and silent the body and mind to become receptive.
- During your exhale be certain to observe the elevator descending and empty your lungs completely. Check in with your exhale and try to empty your breath even more after you feel that you already have.
- Continue with your next inhale and do so for five minutes or 10 full rounds of breath, counting down from 10 and should you forget what number you are on, start again at 10.
If you get agitated in the process, do what you can before feeling this way. Stop before any agitation occurs. Sometimes when one begins a breathing practice, it can be frustrating to breath deeply. Commit to this practice daily and over time you will notice your awareness of your breath throughout your day in all that you do. When you are feeling stressed or anxious you will have this tool, your breath, to bring you back to your true nature. You will find that your awareness will be enhanced to all the beauty that surrounds you. You will feel more alert, awakened to life in a fuller way, you will have a greater sensitivity. Practicing this breath exercise will still the mind preparing it for meditation, so it will be a perfect time to sit silently in beautiful stillness. The practice of this breath should also help with sleep and snoring. Share this simple exercise with your family and friends so we can elevate together. Namasté.
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