First of all, thank you to those of you who have chosen to follow this blog. Most of you have never met me and I am touched by your presence, humbled by your willingness to read what I have to share. Your presence invites me to continue, as well as to write and live from the truth of who I am. Our hearts unite us in the oneness of All That Is.
There is a simple pranayama that I learned very early on in my practice of yoga. Prana is the same as chi. It is the life force energy of all that exists, seen or unseen. Yama means “I control or guide.” Our breath is something that we can feel and guide rather easily so it is the first step in learning to control or guide the flow of energy in our life experience.
It became important to me in my twenties to experience spirituality in practical ways. I remember standing at my kitchen window in Goose Bay, Labrador, as a young mother and whispering a prayer: “Lord, if you can’t show me things that get me from morning to night without losing it, then I’m not interested!” The answer to that prayer has been steadily unfolding in my life ever since.
Using my breath to bring balance to body, mind, emotions has been one of the most practical tools I have learned. In hatha yoga, we know that what we do in the body affects the mind and emotions as well. There is no separation, only varying levels of vibration and energy. So, read the simple steps below. Then, sit quietly and begin to practice the balancing breath. Once you make it your own, you can practice it for 3 breaths or 30 breaths….wherever or whatever works for you. On your mat. In your car. Standing in line at the bank or grocery store. Balance is a powerful key for wholeness and health.
You will notice that it is very difficult to think about anything else when you are practicing pranayama. It requires your awareness and occupies the left brain very well. Even if you do this for just a minute or two, it is a pleasant break from the monkey mind!
Here we go:
Take a few slow breaths and feel your rib cage and abdomen expand with your inhales and relax with your exhales. Notice that the natural inhale is longer than the natural exhale so, during this practice of balancing breath, you will shorten the exhale to match or balance it with your inhale.
Loosen your shoulders; wiggle a little bit, it is good for you!
Close your eyes softly and soften your breath as it slows down. Count your inhale to 4 and notice the pace of your counting.
Inhale slowly to the count of 4. Exhale slowly to the count of 4 and continue.
If guiding the exhale becomes stressful for you, expand back into your normal flow of breath. When you are ready and, if time allows, come back to the balancing breath until you are complete or you need another short break.
Simple, yes? Using this practice when you are calm and quiet makes it even more effective when you are not.
May your heart and mind be open to the miracle that you are.