Breath, the essence of life. Breathing supports every experience we have, from the time we take our first inhalation to that of our last exhalation. Learning to regulate our breath will calm, balance, cleanse, and invigorate our body-mind, to create and maintain wellness in our life.
We can learn a lot by paying attention to our breathing. Right now, lets take a deep breath in and hold it. Feel the discomfort growing as you resist the natural impulse to let go. When it becomes too uncomfortable, release it and notice the immediate relief you feel. Holding onto anything when it’s time to let go creates distress in our body and mind. Now, take a breath in and when you exhale, completely empty your lungs holding the breath out. Notice the increasing discomfort that comes from resisting something from entering your life that you are meant to accept. Notice the relief you feel as you once again inhale.
Now lets do some “belly breathing”. We carry a lot of stress and tension in our belly and this has a major impact on our breath, our energy and our overall health.
Though it’s easiest if you are lying down, you can also do it sitting, standing, or walking. This is a great practice to try before you get out of bed in the morning. It’s also really good to work with whenever you are anxious or tense, since it helps to relax you and center your energy.
We’ll do this for 5 minutes, relaxing our bodies and nervous system, before we go into our meditation.
Start by sitting up straight; imagining a string lifting up your chest. You should feel the area between your chest and your navel lengthen. Softly close your eyes and place a gentle smile on your face.
Some people have difficulty isolating that movement so let’s practice for minute. If it helps, place your hand on your belly, whichever one feels comfortable, but make sure your shoulders and arms stay relaxed. Breathe in and out of your nose, nice, deep slow breaths. Feel the air flowing in …and the air flowing out. As you breathe in, feel your belly moving out into your hand. As you breathe out, feel your belly push back towards your spine. Nice and easy.
Inhale, the belly pushes the hand forward, exhale, the belly moves in towards the spine. With every exhalation, feel yourself relaxing more and more, sinking deeper and deeper into the chair. (or floor)
Inhaling moving the belly forward; exhaling squeezing the belly in towards the spine. Feel the rising, the falling, the in, the out, the pauses between each inhalation and exhalation. Feel that your arms, your shoulders, your neck, all your facial muscles are totally relaxed.
Allow any stresses or worries to melt away, to dissolve, as you relax totally and let go.
I’ll watch the time. You continue breathing in and out; feeling and noticing the breath. Our beautiful breath, the life force that keeps us alive and vibrant. …
Okay, we’ll take a break for a minute. Now we’re going to add another element; so keeping one hand on the belly, place your other hand on your lower back.
Now imagine you’re also expanding backwards into your lower vertebrae as if you want to stretch them out when you breathe in.
So breathing in, we expand the belly foreword and into the lower back; exhale and both hands come back together.
Exhale first. Start your inhalation through your nose now, exhale; squeezing, breathing everything out. Inhale expanding, exhale squeeze. Inhale expand, exhale squeeze.
This is also a good practice at bedtime to calm your nervous system down before sleep. Once you’re lying down, you might want to place a book on your belly to help isolate the movement of your belly.
This breathing technique is the first part of learning the complete ‘Three Part Breath’. The other 2 parts are the ‘mid chest breath’, and the ‘upper chest breath’. The ‘Three Part Breath’ is deep and full breathing, and helps to unlearn patterns of taking in slow sips of breath (shallow breathing) and mouth breathing.