For hundreds of years, yogis have relied upon the power of the breath and its amazing ability to change emotional states, relax the mind, and heal the body. In the Western world, we are just beginning to appreciate the many ways the body, mind, and breath are linked together, affecting our overall health and the way that we perceive and experience life.
As a counterbalance to the intensity and accelerating pace of our lives, more and more people are finding that it is essential for their health and sense of well-being to reconnect with the most basic and simple experiences: appreciating the beauty found in nature, eating organic unprocessed food, walking barefoot in the sand, meditating, or simply sitting in silence and focusing on the breath.
The breath is our connection to life and its subtle spiritual energy that connects us to each other and all living beings. Here is a simple practice you can try, for as little as three minutes, to help you feel more at peace, centered, and relaxed.
1.) Sit up straight with your hands in your lap.
2.) This is called a four square breath. Each of the four parts will be extended to the count of four. You can count silently as you breathe to keep track of the timing.
3.) Begin inhaling through your nose with a steady deep breath. One, two, three, four. Now hold the breath. One, two, three, four. Exhale through the nose with a steady breath. One, two, three, four. Now hold the breath out. One two, three, four. And repeat this cycle. It’s simple yet so effective.
4.) Count to four bring your forearms up until they are parallel to the ground with the palms facing up.
5.) Begin making big circles with your shoulders, inhaling as you slowly roll them up and back and then exhaling as you relax them down and around. Take one deep breath for every circle that you make.
The arms naturally follow the movement of the shoulders.
6.) Continue this practice for three minutes, breathing powerfully and deeply.
The effectiveness of this practice depends solely on how deeply and fully you breathe. Tip: As you inhale, the belly expands fully and then as you exhale bring the navel in and up toward the spine.
7.) To end, bring both shoulders up and then inhale as you suspend the breath for three seconds. Then, exhale to relax.
Beautiful! Now move a little bit to balance the energy. How do you feel?
Brings perspective and awareness. When you take a moment to breathe deeply, your view of the world begins to change and soften. You feel more connected to who you are and are able to reconnect with the bigger picture of life.
Increases energy levels. The more deeply and fully you breathe, the more energy and vitality you have. Breathing brings oxygen into your system and helps vitalize the physical body.
Decreases stress and anxiety. The mind follows the breath. When you breathe more consciously, the mind becomes quieter and calmer, helping to relax your entire system.
Enhances clarity and focus. Certain breathing techniques heighten concentration, alertness, and focus. Instead of trying to stimulate yourself by drinking another latte or espresso, try leaning on the breath.
Reduces inflammation. We read so much about inflammation and its role in so many diseases, for example, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease. Breathing deeply boosts your immune system and reduces the amount of inflammation in your body.
Heightens intuition and your overall feeling of well-being. Breathing with intention opens the flow of intuition and, most importantly, increases your sense of well-being and happiness.
If you can set aside a regular time of day to focus on breathing, you will begin to notice change at deeper levels of your being: practicing in the early morning before sunrise is an optimal time, a time when you mind is calm and the busyness of the day is yet to begin. Sometimes, people ask how long they should practice: start with just three minutes and you will begin to feel more at peace and whole within yourself.
Wherever you are on your spiritual path, we invite you to devote three minutes of your day to discover the beauty, natural rhythm, and calming influence of the breath. The breath is a simple and effective way to connect to your intuitive self and its unlimited capacity to experience healing, creativity, and joy.
See you in class,