By Kandy Love, Ph.D., Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher, LMT
Life on Earth begins with a breath and ends with a breath. Breathing is this magical, automatic activity that happens throughout our day…an innate gift of flowing life force, every moment.
In today’s daily uncertainties and upheavals in all areas of our lives (physical, mental, emotional, social, environmental, spiritual), breathing is usually last on our list that gets attention. For something that happens on an average of 21,000 times every day without needing our control, it is easy to understand how this can get lost, yet also easy to understand how focusing on it could affect…everything!
The principles and practices of breath awareness, adding focus and control, are actually necessary for recovery to take place, to remain stable, and move us toward our overall and daily happiness and health. That which we want more of.
Here’s something to consider: how long can you really go without food; how long without water; then how long without breathing?? Hopefully, you realized that not breathing is the shortest amount of time. Thus its import and impact. Not only is it our life force that keeps our body alive moment to moment, with the heart beating and brain functioning, it has the innate ability to change rhythms, immediately and automatically, with every activity, thought, and emotion.
This is how we can recover from uncomfortable and unwanted circumstances/rhythms. We can be aware of and even change our breath rhythms.
The start place is to build and increase breath awareness of that which is natural, before changing it. I call this becoming familiar with Easy Breathing.
Yoga master BKS Iyengar said it well: The breath must be enticed or cajoled. It is more like catching a horse in a field, NOT by chasing after it, but by standing still with an apple in one’s hand. Nothing can be forced; receptivity is everything.
Easy Breathing happens while relaxing, meditating, and sleeping when the physical body is at rest. A familiar example is a sleeping baby’s breath — silky smooth, effortless. We can feel this while resting as regular and even movements, more in the abdominal area as gentle rounding and releasing and quieting.
Then begin to notice the breath cycle. It is actually made up of four actions: inhalation, pause, exhalation, pause. Asking yourself these questions will be helpful: Can I feel each part? How do they feel to me? Where do I feel the action of each part in the nostrils, chest, and/or belly? Each part of the breath has a distinct action, rhythm, and purpose, and will not be the same from one breath to the next.
To do this awareness practice, make sure you are in a comfortable position with all technology distractions muted. Start with a few minutes, building to at least 10 minutes. (Yes, setting a timer is allowed. Just make sure the ringer is not a really disturbing sound!) Do not try to change the rhythm, just increase your awareness of what is normal. If you fall asleep, even better…deeper rest is obviously needed!
This practice sounds easy but can be challenging as you start to train your mind to stay in the moment feeling and following this automatic movement.
Hopefully, I am making your start point simple for you. Obviously, much more can be written to describe the process of increasing your awareness and moving to control (what in yoga is called pranayama), all leading to the recovery of the life you want to experience. This is where guidance and feedback can be helpful.
For the month of March, you can work privately with me on Zoom. A 45-minute session is more than enough time to discuss your concerns, evaluate your start place, answer your question, and guide you to feel more comfortable and ready to start your recovery journey.
Kandy Love, Ph.D., Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher, LMT.
To your Life’s Breath,
Dr. David & Deb Martin …and all the Practitioners at Lotus Blossom Clinic
Serving the Greater Fort Myers area with Natural and Holistic Medicine, including Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Massage, Science-backed Food as Medicine, Energy & Transformational Sessions…and Community Classes & Events both Virtual and (carefully) In-Person!