“… it is easier to overcome people’s judgments than to overcome our own self-judgment…”
Arianna Huffington

The Element

Yoga & Breath – Natural Breathing

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“A change in breath can diminish the experience of limits. A breathing pattern is usually committed to memory and the limits are associated with it. When the breathing is altered, the memory of the limit disappears and we can explore beyond.”

Though I intended to explain why you should breathe systemically in your Yoga practice – I have opted not to. I will say what I say to my Yoga students – if you are not breathing consciously and systemically then your practice is not Yoga. You can being doing great stretching, strengthening, balancing, whatever exercises – but you are not practicing Yoga.

The only way, I know of, for you to create a relevant relationship (one that goes beyond your mind’s resistance or embracing of it) with this statement is simple: practice passionately and compassionately with breathing for a meaningful period of time and accumulate your own experience. If you’ve never practiced Yoga – then breathing is a great place to start.

The first thing to do in building a relationship with your breath is very little. To notice change you need to first create a reference point, an anchor for your perception, against which you can observe change. So before you make any changes to your breath, first take some time to get acquainted with and create an awareness of your natural breath. A good way to do this is by:

  • Creating a quiet place where you can get comfortable
  • Creating a space in time – a few minutes will do – for you to be in your quiet place.
  • Lying down comfortably on your back.
  • Place both feet on the ground – so that your knees are bent and raised (this relieves your lower back and creates a soft space for breath).
  • Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen.

Observe your breath – what do you notice about it?

  • Where is it located? you can get some information about this from the movement of your hands.
  • How far does it reach into the body?
  • How long is it?
  • Do you notice a difference between the inhale and exhale?
  • How are the transitions between the inhale and the exhale?
  • How do you feel physically while observing your breath?
  • How do you feel mentally while observing your breath?
  • How do you feel emotionally while observing your breath? You may find, for example, that you find either the inhale or exhale more comforting then the other.
  • How do you feel energetically while observing your breath?

Now is a good time to note – there are no answers to these questions. They are reminders for observation. It would be extremely generous and kind of you to suspend any judgment of your breath. It will answer in kind.  You may observe different qualities every time you make the time to observer your natural breathing. It can and does change.

Have you noticed anything interesting? You are welcome to share your experiences : )

Coming next: Ujjayi breathing.

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