Updated: Apr 10, 2020
In my classes a few weeks ago I taught a heart centred flow. I love teaching this theme, but not in a way that you might often see advertised in yoga studios. You won’t see any of my students pushing into a full, perfect wheel pose. Not most weeks anyway. Instead I try to encourage my students to express versions of their own heart space. Learning softly to understand what they want to bring into, receive or have less of in their lives.
In these uncertain times it is important that we advocate for our own wellbeing and create a routine that can support us, rather than make us feel even worse, so I want to introduce you to breathwork, or pranayama in sanskrit. A practice that can help you find a little more calm in your everyday.
Heart & Air
Our energetic heart space holds our physical heart, of course, but it is also home to our lungs, protected by the woven fibre, muscle and bone of our ribcage. It combines both the front, and back of our body in the cylinder of our ribcage and core. While we are able to open our hearts physically by taking backbend postures, another way to truly open this space is to breathe, and simply notice we are doing it.
Let me explain a little… If I told you I’d stopped breathing you would be worried, but how often do we leave our bodies and forget our breath in a stressful situation. We gasp when we are shocked or surprised, we yawn when we are tired, we sigh when we are disappointed or frustrated. Our breath is a true, natural, automatic expression of our internal and emotional state. Therefore by bringing our awareness to it, we can use it as a tool to understand ourselves more fully.
"Our breath is a true, natural, automatic expression of our internal and emotional state."
10 minutes a day
I wouldn’t be lying if I were to say that just 10 minutes a day of conscious, purposeful breathing can help you in your life. You might practice yoga, exercise, complete practices such as journalling or going for walks, but if you are not paying attention to your breath, you will not have a true indicator of what you need moment to moment.
From a technical stance, as we consciously breathe we are connecting to our parasympathetic nervous system. This is the system responsible for relaxation and regeneration (rest & di, rather than the sympathetic nervous system, which acts as our fight or flight or stress response. We spend so much time in the latter state, it is unsurprising that by just noticing our breath for 10 minutes a day, we can significantly reduce our stress in everyday situations. I am not saying it will fix all your problems, but it might help you get through a bad day.
Especially in the current climate of anxiety, breathing can help you self-regulate your emotions and give you a little more perspective, where otherwise it might not be possible.
I have decided for my own personal practice that with the advent of the spring, and the current world situation, it is a time to breathe. I invite you to follow along the next few weeks too, as I will be posting more practices for you to follow. I have recorded a simple breathing exercise for you to follow to get you started. Why not play it every day and make a note of how you feel before, and after, each day.
Accountability is not often my strong suit, so please message me to let me know how you are getting on, and I promise to be honest and tell you how I’m doing too! Some days just noticing your breath for 5 breaths is enough, which is where we will begin.
During this time, it is possible that you will find more physical space within your chest and ribcage. There is, however, a distinct possibility that you will find even more space within your heart and mind. As you clear your lungs and heart, maybe you will find yourself clearing other aspects of your life and looking at the world through a new lens.
Did you find any of these tips helpful? Share below or on facebook at www.facebook.com/yogaflowoflife
All the best,