At the beginning of my yoga class the instructor usually asks us to set an intention. It’s something to be mindful or to work on throughout the class. Usually mine is simple: breathe. Much of yoga is about breathing, using the breath as you move and focusing on the in and out to clear the mind. When I first started the class, maintaining this focus was the hardest part for me. My mind is like a 2 year old that can’t keep still. I inhale… exhale… and then wonder what’s for dinner? My mind goes to groceries, work, decorating, the weekend… my quiet little breath doesn’t stand a chance with all the noise in my head! So I make it my intention to breathe and focus on it to clear my head. Like anything else it takes practice, but being able to control and use your breath is a fantastic asset to your health.
Give it a try right here. Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose. Breathe out through your mouth. When you breathe in, take the air in all the way so that your stomach expands. It should rise on the inhale and and fall on the exhale. Then push the air all the way out through your mouth. Try breathing this way a few times and see how it feels. This is the proper way to take a breath. That’s the other thing… when I started doing yoga I realized I had been doing it all wrong! Taking those big belly breaths brings in more oxygen which in turn gives you more energy. With each breath remember that you’re taking in oxygen that’s giving life to every cell in your body. If you ask me that’s something worth paying attention to every now and then.
Try focusing on the breath at some point throughout your day. If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, angry, come back to the breath. Dr. Weil shared this simple breathing exercise with our IIN class in New York over the summer. Maybe it will work for you….
Relax your tongue below the ridge of your mouth and behind your front teeth.
Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts
Hold the breath for 7 counts
Breathe out though your mouth for 8 counts
Repeat 3 more times.
Try doing this exercise 2 times a day. But do not exceed 8 times a day. Use it when you’re stuck in traffic, or try it to help you fall asleep when you can’t.