Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Fill 'er Up

By Healingyoga

This morning I stayed in Child's Pose for a few minutes simply because I was enjoying the feeling of the breath expanding the back of my body. The feeling reminded me of the ease of breathing after I had 10 Rolfing sessions some years back. I had a history of shoulder/chest tension when I was under stress, so getting in there and freeing all of those muscles up gave me real before and after feeling. Needless to say, I never wanted to go back to the before stage.

I suppose it's no surprise then that I tend to focus a bit more on breathing than asana in my personal practice. And on the mat isn't the only place I use the breath. Rather than reach for coffee for a pick me up, I do simple breathing techniques. It's quite common for me to do a lot of sighing breaths throughout the day. Breathing is such a simple -- and powerful -- thing and yet so many of my clients have trouble using their breath constructively. Muscle constriction and tension and shallow breathing are two of the most common things that I see.

Here are some helpful exercises to free your breath and help you get your fill of oxygen:

  • Understanding and Improving Breathing -- here's a somatic approach to freeing your breath along with a helpful exercise
  • Freeing the Diaphragm -- this simple exercise will have you taking a deeper breath in under a minute
  • The Complete Yoga Breath -- I love this multi-part series that breaks down the yoga breath in perfect detail: Step 1 -- the Larynx, Step 2 -- The Diaphragm, Step 3 -- the Ribcage, Step 4 -- the Collarbone
  • Breathing Techniques for Healing -- from the same source as above, this helpful guide offers a few exercises for cleansing and stimulating the system
  • Breathe to Beat the Blues -- this is one of my favorite guided breathing CDs 
  • Bringing Breath to Life -- and this is another one of my favorite guided breathing CDs
  • Expel Your Anger -- this breath won't necessarily help you breath more fully but it will help loosen body tension by expelling anger

Improving your breathing is a process, so merely doing an exercise here or there won't help to create lasting change. But if you stick with it, you just might experience that before and after feeling I spoke about earlier.  


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