PRANAYAMA BREATHING EXCERCISES
PRANAYAMA is the practice of regulating your breath.
By observing, controlling, expanding and retaining your breath you can manage stress, decrease feelings of anxiety, fear, racing thoughts and improve your breathing.
This calms your parasympathetic nervous system so your body can rest, rejuvenate and regenerate, helping you to take in more oxygen and release more toxins.
Find a quiet spot and come to a comfortable seat.
Sit either cross legged on the floor, sit up on a pillow or a block, so that your knees are lower than your hips, or against a wall with your legs outstretched or even upright in a chair. The important thing is to be comfortable, with your spine straight, neither too warm nor too cold, with clothing that allows you to breathe freely. Allow at least 2 hours since you last ate so your stomach is empty.
OBSERVING YOUR BREATH
✧Place your hands on your knees, palms facing up.
INHALE, notice your chest expanding, then allow your abdomen to gently expand.
EXHALE, gently drawing muscles in around the navel.
Repeat 2x at your own pace.
✧Next INHALE, counting how long your breath takes.
Then EXHALE, counting again, without trying to change anything.
An inhalation plus an exhalation is 1 cycle. Repeat for 3 cycles.
Notice if either the inhalation or exhalation is longer.
Be aware if it changes for each cycle of breath.
✧Sitting with your fingers in GYAN (Gee-yan) MUDRA, that is, rest your hands on your knees palms facing up, bringing your index and thumb fingers to touch, while extending your middle, ring and pinky fingers held together. In the yoga tradition this is thought to induce calm and improve focus.
Now begin INHALING and EXHALING for equal counts. Choose a count comfortable for you. Allow the count to change with each cycle if needed. Repeat 5x. Then relax.
Notice the ideal ratio for you. Also be open to it changing from day to day.
Stop at anytime this becomes uncomfortable or you become lightheaded.
✧ INHALE expanding your chest and stomach. Pause. Relax and exhale. Pause. Repeat 3x.
✧Now INHALE a long, deep breath, hold for 5 seconds, slowly EXHALING all the air out.
Repeat 6x observing your thoughts. As you slow the breath so you calm the mind.
Putting it all together, count at your ideal pace to INHALE and EXHALE stopping for the same number of counts in between. Like this, Inhale 4 counts, Hold 4 counts, Exhale 4 counts, whatever number works for you. You can do this step over time. Stop if you feel uncomfortable. Then relax.
Over time you will begin to notice distracting and disturbing thoughts as they arise. By taking a few deep breaths you will begin to be able slow those thoughts from spiraling out of control using your breath to remind you to stay calm, allowing you to re-channel your energy in a more productive way.
I hope this has brought you some peace. Until next time… Namaste.