Breath is the inspiration and blueprint for all movement in life. When we breathe well, fully and deeply, we can move and be well. Here are some of the best breathing exercises to help you in your daily life, whether you need to release anxiety or stoke your inner fire...
Awaken and Energise
This is a simple but powerful practice that connects us to the earth, enabling us to feel it's energy and vitality moving up through our bodies and out again.
1. Sit comfortably on a chair or cushion placed on the ground, in an easy and upright position. Anchor through your pelvis and let your crown softly rise. Rest your hands in your lap, one palm lying on top of the other. Relax and soften your facial muscles and let your eyes close.
2. Become aware of your breath and let the light of your awareness shine into your breathing.
3. On your next inhalation, raise your hands in front of your navel with the fingertips almost touching, feeling the energy rising through your body, as you float your hands up in front of your face.
4. When the in breath is naturally complete, pause and move your hands apart, opening them up and out in a large V shape. Let your chest and face softly life towards the sky.
5. Feel your body full of energy and light as your breath in the whole sky.
6. As you slowly exhale, let go of the sky and bring your breath and arms back down to earth, resting your hands back in your lap. Pause for a moment to feel the depth of your exhalation and support of the floor beneath you.
7. This is one complete round. Repeat 5-10 times, then sit quietly for a few moments, feeling the energy and life flowing within you.
Stoke your inner fire
This practice will stoke your inner fire and help to invigorate the abdominal organs, aid digestion and tone the core muscles.
1. Come to sit comfortably on a chair or cushion placed on the ground, in an easy and upright position. Feel the foundation of your pelvis rooting down. Softly lengthen through your spine and ease your shoulders down to let your chest open.
2. Place your hands one in front of the other and turn your palms inwards to make gentle contact with your lower belly.
3. Relax and soften your facial muscles and let your eyes close.
4. Enjoy a few steady, deep breaths and then exhale completely.
5. Inhale deeply and vigorously, letting your belly bellow out into your hands.
6. Exhale with equal strength and draw you back, in and up, away from your hands.
7. Continue this for another 9 times, maintaining a steady, even rhythm with equal inhalations and exhalations. These 10 breaths make one round of 'Bhastrika' (a breathing pattern used in yoga.)
8. Practise another 2-4 rounds and sit quietly, allowing your breath to return to it's natural flow.
The following meditation helps to level and calm the breath, soothing the mind and releasing any anxiety and tension in the body.
1. Sit comfortably on a chair or cushion in an easy and upright position. Relax, soften your facial muscles and let your eyes close and settle here.
2. Become aware of your breath and notice how you are breathing, without changing anything. Are you breathing through your noise, mouth or both? How does your breath feel? Is it short or long? Is it shallow or deep? Take a few deep breaths and accept the breath for how it is. Letting it be.
3. On your next exhalation breathe out completely. Gently, inhale deeply through your nose, feeling when you are full and then softly exhaling through your mouth, emptying your lungs completely and sighing out. Repeat 2-4 times, letting your mind and body soften on each breath.
4. Now let your breath flow steadily through your nose. Allow each out breath to come to its natural end, and then gently open to each in breath.
5. When your attention moves away from your breath and begins to focus on other things, observe that this has happened and be aware of what you are thinking and feeling. Simply notice the thoughts and accompanying feelings that arise. Notice the physical changes without altering anything. Can you watch what happens? Can you observe your own thoughts and feelings? Be aware that these thoughts and feelings are a natural response to the situation you find yourself in.
6. Gently bring your attention back to your breath and its flow. Breathe in and out fully and completely, letting each breath come to its natural and complete end. Each time your mind wanders, notice this and witness the thoughts and feelings. Breathe with them and know that they are not you. Gently bring your awareness back to the natural flow of your breath