Take a deep breath. Loosen your jaw and feel your eyebrows soften. Now take another long, deep breath in and out. Notice if your body feels a bit more at ease.
Yogi Bhajan emphasized that the rate of breathing and state-of-mind are inseparable. When the body is under excessive stress, it can sometimes forget how to breathe efficiently, and the natural ability to breathe effortlessly can become lost.
BKS Iyengar taught that while the mind has control over the body, the breath has control over the mind. And as we learn breath control, we can learn to default to deep, effortless breathing during times of stress and challenge.
If you have ever seen a baby sleeping, you will notice their ribcage and belly effortlessly rise and fall as they breathe. Through the practice of yogic breathwork, called pranayama, we can retrain the body and mind to restructure its breathing patterns back to this effortless and efficient state.
When I focus on the breath during my yoga practice, my body feels refreshed and strong, and my mind feels clear and calm. I envision each inhalation flowing into the areas of my body that need healing, filtering out unwanted toxins. I imagine excessive thoughts being placed onto my exhalations, creating more mental space. Breath awareness can encourage health and vitality, even if you are new to the practice.
Easy Breathwork for Beginners
- From seated or standing position, breathe in while stretching your arms up. Notice that when you stretch, you create space in your midsection so that your lungs can fill up better.
- Now, breathe out while floating your arms slowly down. Notice that when your arms come down, your ribs lower to push the air out of your lungs.
- Now, put it all together. Stretch and reach up slowly while you count to five, breathing deeply and filling up your lungs. Lower your arms down while you count to seven, slowly releasing all of the breath from your body.
- Continue on for five rounds. When you finish, rest in the stillness for a moment and reap the benefits of your work. Notice how much more relaxed you feel.