With the circumstances that we are all experiencing right now, there are many who are seeking a way to find balance – to find the calm within.
It is always there for you, waiting for you to engage with it. The best way to do that is to find a way to breathe that de-stresses and leads you to the feeling of calm that you are seeking. Breathing is a necessity and when you utilize your breath for maximum benefit, you will ask yourself why you didn’t try it a lot earlier.
Recently I have posted a couple of videos on my FB page introducing you to the concept of Back-body breathing. I have been practicing this for awhile and it has changed my meditation and yoga practice in leaps and bounds. It is by far the most calming breath I have experienced. Kudos to Peter Sterios who is a veteran yoga teacher and author.
Typically we have been led to believe that deep belly breathing is the best thing for us. It’s a great way to breathe however it focuses your breath solely on frontal breathing. With a conscious deep belly inhalation we can feel our lungs expanding and most of us feel the front rib cage expanding slightly as well.
With the back-body breathing we begin to experience our breath in our back and our sides. On the inhalation we feel the expansion of our ribs, skin and muscle tissue and the influence that the back-body has on our spine. Back-body breathing has become THEE way of breathing for me now whenever I am consciously breathing.
As I mention in my videos, we want to incorporate a very slow inhalation and exhalation to really benefit from this way of breathing. I recommend a count of 3 or 4 as you slowly inhale through your nostrils and focus on the breath flowing through the nostrils and feel it moving down the back of your throat, back of your neck and slowly expanding down your spine. Feel it moving down, down, down and how it massages along your spine and your sides, slowly flowing down to the bottom of your pelvic and genital area.
Then follow and focus on the slow exhalation, also a count of 3 or 4. As you begin the exhalation, gently soften your belly and feel the release. As your belly softens, your breath moves upward through your abdomen, organs, heart and lungs and continues up the back of your throat and flowing out of your nostrils. Feel the warmth of the air releasing and feel the amazing physical release that started with the softening of your belly.
Much of the emphasis with this breath is your engagement with the sensations that you feel in your body. One of them might be discomfort as you inhale slowly. Your lungs, diaphragm and psyche are not used to the slow breath and may feel that there is not enough air coming in for a full breath requirement. If that is the case, then please heed the signals your body gives to you and start with a smaller count, working your way up from 2 to 3 then 4, and eventually 5 and 6 if you are able.
One of the principles of yoga is to touch the edge. That means breathing or allowing a stretch in a pose that is just slightly past your level of comfort. When we touch the edge we are developing and growing, physically, mentally and spiritually.
When you experience the release with your slow exhalation, you will feel the weight of your organs sinking as gravity takes over. This awareness will help to develop your capacity for breathing and with consistent practice the releasing that is experienced with your diaphragm, muscle and connective tissue, naturally lengthens your spine as the paraspinal muscles of your back are also released. This also provides more space for breathing.
Continued practice will lead you to an exquisite state of calm that is is comparable to the amazing release of tension that you experience with massage. You are essentially massaging internally and providing release to your subtle energy bodies (which we will explore in future posts and videos).
If you have not started already, then may I suggest that you view my videos on FB (posted March 31 and April 2) that will provide some direction.
Stay tuned as I invite you to learn about the quality of your breath, enhancing your breath for increasing awareness in body sensation, physical breath vs subtle breath and the benefits to you of engaging with this breath throughout your day as well as incorporating it in your meditation and yoga practices.
Being present and living one day at time are as important as ever now. For many people, apprehension and anxiety come with the unknown. Engage with your breath and allow it to connect you with the calm within.