“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Following a recent bike accident which resulted in contusions in my ribs, I was reminded how much conscious breathing practices are such and integral part of my yoga practice, and not just on the mat. Any pressure or movement of my ribs was painful, my breathing became restricted and shallow, and I quickly started experiencing the negative consequences of not being able to have a full, expansive breath going through my everyday life. Tiredness, stress, frustration….So grateful that this episode is over and that I can literally BREATHE again !
I was recently sharing with a couple preparing for the birth of their baby that, in my opinion, the top 2 aspects of preparing for birth are 1/ Relaxation 2/ Breathing well (the two are linked of course as many breathing practices will naturally lead you to a more relaxed state of being). Knowing how to relax well and quickly and breathing well are two life tools and skills which can transform your moment-to-moment experience both during the challenges or pregnancy and birth, but also with caring for a new baby (and of course, for the rest of your life!). Here are 2 breathing practices which can be practiced anywhere, anytime you can take 10 minutes off, before going to sleep, while feeding your baby etc…..You could be sitting or lying down on your side
- Golden Thread Breath: Face, mouth and lips relaxed. Create a fine opening between the lips. Inhale naturally through the nose, and exhale through the lips very slightly parted (lips stay relaxed). You can visualize a fine golden thread of exhalation spiral through your lips, or imagine that you are blowing very lightly onto the light of a candle. The exhalations will gradually become longer than the exhalations (=calming the nervous system). Great at any time of stress, panic, during the early stage of labour, when breastfeeding is painful, when you can’t sleep, etc…..
- Alternate nostril breathing: traditionally practiced with a hand mudra closing the nostrils alternatively, you can also practice this breath without any mudra. Sit comfortably. Press one of your fingers onto the third eye, right between the eye brows, for 15 seconds. Release the pressure but keep your attention on this energy center. Face and mouth relaxed. Breathe in through the right nostril and up to the eye brow center, breathe out from the eye brow center through the left nostril. Breathe through the left and out through the right etc….Keep going, mentally following the journey of the breath from left to right and right to left through the imaginary triangle (the top being the eye brow center). A wonderful breath when you feel out of focus, overwhelmed, thoughts are foggy.