Inhale, feel the breath rise and fill your lungs, feel the length through the spine and the sense of renewal and clarity enter your body. As you exhale, find softness though the scalp, forehead, jaw, tongue, shoulders. Give yourself permission to be in the present moment and let go of all the external noise we allow to cloud our mind.
Our breath, in our Yoga practice is such an important focus. When we are able to control the breath, we automatically start to draw the senses inward. The stresses in our life become quieter, we can bring them into perspective and we move our awareness to the way the breath moves through the body.
Here are 3 techniques you can use during your yoga practice and away from your mat to bring clarity and calm to the mind in our day to day life.
1. Maharaja Pranayama (Three-Part Breath / Royal Breath) – This breath teaches us to fill and empty the lungs completely. Taking long, deep, slow breaths has a relaxing effect on the body. Bringing your full attention to keeping your inhalations and exhalations the same length occupies your mind, giving it a much need break from its usual hum of activity.
1. Close your eyes and connect to your breath. Find comfort sitting or lying down with a straight spine.
2. As you inhale, draw the breath deep into the lower abdomen and allow the breath to fill upwards to the navel and outward away from the spine, as the breath fills this area expands in all directions.
3. Continue the inhalation, expanding through the ribcage, diaphragm and the mid-back as the breath continues to rise into the sternum and heart. The shoulders and collar bones lift gently.
4. As you exhale, release the breath from the upper chest as the heart, lungs, sternum and shoulders all relax and drawing in toward the spine. Continue to exhale down feeling the ribcage contract, navel draw closer the spine and release the breath from the lower abdomen, feeling the slight contraction as it draws back towards the spine.
2. Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) – If you find yourself easily distracted, impulsive or unfocused, this breath centres the mind and body bringing balance through the Nadis (energy channels) on both sides of the body.
1. Close your eyes and connect to your breath. Find comfort sitting with a straight spine.
2. Relax your left palm comfortably into your lap and bring your right palm up in front of your face.
3. Allow your right your pointer finger and middle finger to rest gently between your eyebrows at the third eye.
4. Close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily for 5 counts.
5. Close the left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through the right side for 5 counts.
6. Inhale through the right side slowly for 5 counts.
7. Close your right nostril with your right thumb and exhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily for 5 counts.
8. Repeat 5-10 cycles, allowing your mind to follow your inhales and exhales. Perfect if you’re feeling stressed, anxious or in need of a reset.
3. Inhale 4, Exhale 7
You can use your breath to diffuse stress, slow your heart rate and calm your nerves. This technique is discreet. No one can see you're doing it. You can practice while in traffic, grocery shopping, in meetings, or at school pick up time. If you are feeling irritated or anxious within a couple of minutes you will begin to feel more relaxed. Practise: 1. You can do this sitting or standing. Drop your shoulders and let your jaw relax. 2. Now inhale slowly through your nose, counting to four allowing your stomach to expand.
3. Hold for one count.
4. Exhale your breath slowly and fully as you count to 7. 5. Repeat for 3 rounds or as long as you feel comfortable.
You'll have noticed that you are taking longer to breath out than you are to inhale. This is common in many breathing exercises for relaxation because you send a direct system to your mind and nervous system to relax when you lengthen your outgoing breath The pause between your incoming and outgoing breaths gives you a moment of stillness where everything is suspended, if you can learn to focus on that moment you will find it a really calming experience.