Whether you’re leaning over counters for a lengthy amount of time like Giada does when she cooks or spend time hunched over a desk or phone, we often times lose connection to our breath, and because of this, our breath shortens.
These short and shallow breaths can be a learned habit and often times is where we spend our time operating from on a daily basis. With a practice of yoga with awareness on mindful breathing, you begin to connect mind and body. Yoga with awareness helps us to break up the pattern of our ways, our old habits. In yoga we bring about paying attention to the breath while skillfully placing our bodies, so that the next time you are at your desk, you might think twice about your posture and breath, and eventually it will come naturally.
How does mindful breathing relate to my yoga practice?
Bringing awareness to breath in yoga posture allows us to connect with a subtler level than the gross body, so that we ease in to the posture rather than go for sensation. Often times students will force their bodies into shapes to attain a feeling, or have an aversion to the shape. Yoga is not about achieving shapes, but about connecting awareness to the body in the midst of movement and posture. This teaches us how we can still find our breath, stay grounded and connected while exploring balance and allowing the practice of self-compassion around the abilities and limitations of our body.
How does breath affect your posture?
While we may need to lean over a counter to cook, we might fall in to a pattern and find ourselves in this posture when it’s not necessary. Mind creates posture, and posture creates mind. If we walk around like this for too long, we may begin to feel defeated in different parts of our lives. So, we continue to break up the pattern after having worked out all the jitters and critters in the body with movement, and follow it up with meditation. Here is where we create the space to become present with the more subtler movements of our body – the breath.
What can you do to bring awareness to mindful breathing when off the mat?
If you are cooking, or taking in some screen time, take a moment to feel your feet on the ground and then notice your breath. With observation, your breath naturally will change. Allow this to simply be feedback. With purpose, begin to lengthen your breath at a comfortable rate and notice how it feels coming in and going out. Where do you feel it? What does it feel like? Does it change? Move? Do this with a sense of openness for 20 seconds and you will break up any patterns of rigor and frenzy in your brain too! We create new connections that have a sense of ease. The more we practice this, the more we will notice our lives ease in to the day to day.
Here are two simple mindful breath exercises to try at home:
1. Standing with arms by your sides, feel your feet connect to the ground. Feel length in the back of your neck and through the crown of your head.
2. Inhale to reach your arms over head, guiding your breath to the sides of your ribs.
3. Clasp palms at the top, exhale bend to the right. Breathe in to your left side rib cage, exhale to take your gaze under your right arm. Inhale to gaze forward, exhale to settle.
4. Inhale to rise through center, exhale to the other side and repeat!
5. All in the while, pay attention to your breath and notice how it feels.
1. Sit in a comfortable way, lie down on your back or stand.
2. Let your eyes close.
3. Start by noticing the connection your body makes to the surface below (I.e. chair, bed or floor). Feel the pressure of the weight of gravity.
4. Invite a softening to the body, allowing the shoulders to ease away from the ears, the jaw to un-hinge and the brow to spread.
5. Let the hands release in to stillness. Begin to bring your noticing to your breath. Feel what it feels like when it enters and exits your body.