Yet another way we can align with cycles of nature is to pay some attention to our breathing. A lot of us have mind and body health symptoms that would be soothed to some degree with proper breathing. In fact, breath is one of our most important forms of nourishment.
The breath is a wonderful tool on our path because it is always available to us. By learning to trust it, we can find a less effort-full way of moving through the world. By becoming more sensitive to its changes we can also recognize subtle ways we try to control it.
There are many practices for working with the breath, but we always need to start with just remembering how to take a full breath. In yoga we call this “Full Yogic Breath”.
Full Yogic Breath helps us become accustomed to deeper breathing as a regular habit. Bringing the breath into the belly helps to soothe anxiety or pain caused by being overstimulated. Resting your awareness on the process of breathing cools intensity and irritability caused by heat and stress.
Full Yogic Breath
Here’s a 5 minute audio of the practice:
Lie on your back on a bed or the floor.
Feel your body relax into the support of the earth.
Imagine your body is like a hollow vessel that you are pouring the breath into. Inhale, filling that vessel with the breath, from the base of the pelvis to the pit of the throat. The belly inflates first, like a balloon. Then the breath moves upwards, filling the sides and back of the ribcage.
As you exhale the breath back out, the vessel empties from throat to base. The navel relaxes back toward the spine.
In the beginning, it can be helpful to place one hand over the navel and one over the sternum. As you breathe, remind yourself to fill the belly first and then the chest. When exhaling, empty the chest and then the belly.
Stay connected to the full, deep breath and continue breathing like this for as long as you like. Try 5 minutes at first, but you might want to stay longer.
Once you are able to comfortably practice the breath lying down, try it sitting up and then standing. Before long you will find that you are breathing in this way more and more of the time without having to think about it.