Day 13... breath

by Christina

In the silence of the breath, is peace.
— Ntathu Allen
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I was recently in a yoga class and the instructor said "we do all this work in class for the sole purpose of finding our way to shavasana." Now, shavasna is the final pose in a yoga class where one rests, not to sleep but to recharge after a period of effort and work. At the time, I thought her statement was odd. After all, why would I spend 50 minutes of effort if the only goal was to lie down and relax for 10? Couldn't I just skip the work and go straight to shavasana?

Oh grasshopper, of course not. One must experience the process of both the work and the rest for the full experience; both parts complete the process and neither one can stand alone. Again, it's about balance... too much work without rest leads to imbalance and vice versa.

Yoga has also taught me the power of breathing. Using my breath to calm me down or to provide focus. A strategy needed not only on the mat. See, we breathe all the time without ever giving it much thought and that right there is the most bizarre concept. Our breath is the most important life-sustaining act that we do. How long can we go without oxygen? A couple of minutes? maybe 5? Yet we don't even think about it.

We know how to do the work now let's learn how to do the rest part. Using your breath to recharge is a powerful technique that takes only moments. If you find yourself thinking "I don't do yoga" or "this is silly," I encourage you to give this one a try. It isn't "yoga" per se and so what if you feel silly... that's ok too.

Day 13. Peace tip.

Breathe. We can use our breath strategically to guide us and help us find a calmer state of being. Focusing on our breath provides that moment of rest we need to recharge ourselves in this busy, chaotic world. Today, I'll teach you nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing.

  1. Take a comfortable seat, making sure to sit up tall with feet placed firmly on the ground.

  2. Relax your left palm comfortably into your lap and bring your right hand just in front of your face.

  3. With your right hand, bring your pointer finger and middle finger to rest between your eyebrows, lightly using them as an anchor. The fingers we’ll be actively using are the thumb and ring finger.

  4. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out through your nose.

  5. Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily.

  6. Pause holding the inhale for a brief moment.

  7. Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side; pause briefly at the bottom of the exhale.

  8. Inhale through the right side slowly.

  9. Pause briefly with both nostrils closed.

  10. Open your left nostril and release your breath slowly through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom.

When you're feeling stressed, anxious, or looking for a calm and peaceful way to begin your day, repeat 5-10 cycles, allowing your mind to follow your inhales and exhales.

Steps 5-9 represent one complete cycle of alternate nostril breathing; one cycle should take you about 30-40 seconds.

Consistency is helpful, so try to match the length of your inhales, pauses, and exhales. For example, you can start to inhale for a count of five, hold for five, exhale for five, hold for five. You can slowly increase your count as you refine your practice.

May your day be filled with peace and a few conscious breaths...


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