Allowed to Thrive
Written by Kris Montigny
Take an easy, full breath in, and allow your breath to release naturally and fully. What did you notice? Where did you inhale end, and what did it feel like? Where did your exhale end, and how did that feel? What is an easy breath, in or out? Are you breathing easily?
Do this a few more times. Easy, full breaths in and out, but without pushing, pulling, forcing or straining. Notice how you, your body, your mind, your breathing feels as you take a few more easy and full breaths in and out.
You may know that I pretty much never say, “Take a full or deep breath in," in class. So why did I say it just a moment ago? Simply to let you feel your body a little bit differently. To feel where and how you breathe and what that may mean.
Now return to your normal breathing pattern and pacing. No need to do anything deliberate. Simply return to breathing normally.
What do you notice?
Once you have returned to your normal breathing pattern for a minute or so, start to breathe just a little more deeply. Don’t rush or force. Simply allow your breath to fill your lungs and ribs a little more fully. Just a little. Do this a few more times.
Be careful that you aren’t breathing too fast or forcefully. Allow your normal breath to deepen just a little bit. Easily. Steadily.
You are a normal person, living a normal life of sports, hobbies, manual labor, emotional ups and downs, walking, standing, sitting, (sometimes too much, and sometimes too little). And you have been doing so for many years and decades.
These normal, everyday activities have created tension in your body and mind – much that has not been released over the years – a habit of tension – an unconscious holding of everyday life and tension. Now the accumulated effects of those tensions have started to impact you in a variety of ways. Breathing optimally is one of those areas.
I won’t go into all the science and numbers of what we know about proper breathing right now, but suffice it to say that the older you get, the more your doctor EXPECTS your breathing capacity and health to decline. As far as he knows, that’s normal. He or she will even describe it a, “you’re just getting older, and this is what naturally happens.”
I’m here to tell you, it’s not. So let’s just start with easy breathing and see how quickly and easily your body returns to it’s normal breathing capacity and flow.
Lie down, with your knees raised, and your head cushioned if needed. It’s ok if you are sitting comfortably in a chair. Place one hand on you belly, above your navel, and place your other hand on your chest.
Breathe naturally and normally. Allow your body to breathe for you.
Notice your hands and how they move with your breath. Both hands should be moving with your breath. Your hands rise up with your inhale. Your hands lower as you soften into your exhale.
If you notice that they are not moving together with your breath you may need to teach your breath and body to move differently.
If 1 hand is not moving at all, simply press your hand down, and place a little extra pressure there. Breathe intentionally into that area. Let your breath move to that area and into your hand, and allow your breath to move your body and your hand. Be mindful of the difference between breathing intentionally and breathing forcefully. Breathe easily and intentionally this way a few times.
Practice this once or twice every day for 10-15 minutes if you find you have difficulty breathing, if you are particularly stressed, or if you are having difficulty with Ujjayi.
If you are doing Ujjayi, begin with Easy Breathing for a few minutes, then move naturally into your Ujjayi breath and notice if your Easy Breathing changes your sound or breath in any way. You may notice that the sound and breath become more soft and subtle. As you continue this Easy Breathing preparation, notice now how powerful your breathing practice can be!
It’s scary out there. You don’t know if you’re sick, or if your family is safe. You’re angry. How did this happen? How could this happen? When will this end? And how?
In these uncertain times, with the never-ending updates and speculations, you may be stuck in a stress-induced inhalation. Stuck there. Waiting for the news to tell you something more, something that will help you relax and return to normal. When we are startled, we often get stuck in a partial, sharp, inhalation. An inhalation we may not fully release.
Help is just a breath or two away.
Here is a simple stress-reducing breathing technique that you can use anywhere, and at any time.
THE DOUBLE EXHALE:
Take a normal, easy breath in.
Repeat 2-3 times.
This should quickly and easily reduce stress and anxiety, while resetting your body back to an easy and normal relaxed state. Occasionally, you may need to repeat this process. Wait 10-15 minutes if you need to do another round of 3-4 Double Exhales.
For the rest of your day, easy breathing through your nose will help you stay calm and grounded. And more importantly, easy breathing through your nose helps your nervous system calm down, which means your immune function will improve, if needed, or stay stable and strong where it is now.
How simple is that? And you are in control. Your health and wellbeing improve with every single breath.