by Astra Farquharson
Yoga and the Breath!
Learning to breathe consciously – or practicing Pranayama (in the indian Sanskrit) is the ‘fourth limb’ of an eight part Yoga system, set out in the Yoga Sutras dated around 300 BC.
The literal translation of Pranayama is Prana (life force) and Yama (control). When we regulate the breath, we ‘prepare the mind for steadiness’.
There are many Pranayama techniques that have been shared over hundreds of years stemming from texts such as the Bhagavad Gita. Pranayama is said to help detox or cleanse the body as well as balance the mind.
A Short Breath Awareness Practice
Cautionary note: In Yoga practice your self-care is of primary importance. If you have any respiratory or heart conditions, please consult your doctor for advice before practicing.
1. Preparation – Either sitting or lying, start by encouraging your face, mouth and jaw to be soft and relaxed
2. Breath and movement – to relax the shoulders and increase oxygen flow
3. Nasal breathing – to settle the breath and notice the rhythm of your own breath
4. Breath awareness – noticing the sense of the breath in body
5. Open the eyes or lift gaze and get on with the rest of your day!
A Short Meditation Practice!
I use this short meditation to re-centre, especially at the start of the month where I often feel a mixture of optimism and reflection.
Try this practice when you have a few minutes to spare, or for a longer practice, allow a few minutes in between each point.
Ensure you are in a comfortable position whether you are sitting or lying down.
Try to minimise any prominent noises around you, but no need for total silence.
Let a half or full smile emerge, to celebrate the first day of the month…If/when your smile slips away, just keep a sense of it.
With the mouth closed, (optional) start to notice the sound of your own breath…then the sensation of your breath in the nose.
Tune into any small sounds around you… then notice moments of relative quiet in between these sounds.
Now settle here with a low gaze for a few more minutes, or when you feel the urge to complete your practice.
Take three deep breaths, then bring your smile back. Keep a sense of your smile for the rest of your day, week and month!
I would love to hear how you got on with these practices?