The constant presence of the breath is extraordinary and reassuring! Through all of our activities, thoughts, pleasures and pains, the breath continues. It is an unceasing source of abundance and communication. When we are stressed the breath tends to become shallow and short. In contrast, when we relax the breath deepens and lengthens.
What trends have you noticed about your breath over the past two weeks?
We can use the breath as a tool to help us through anything that we struggle with because it is automatic and ever-present yet controllable. Today, we’ll add on to our breath practice, but also continue with the breath awareness practices that you have been doing. Simply noticing the qualities of the breath without judging it or changing it. The depth, the width, the tempo, the different sensations of the inhale and the exhale. There is no right or wrong here, it is simply awareness, getting to know how your breath normally flows and how it changes depending on your circumstance and mental/emotional environment.
Once you are comfortable and focussed on the breath, gently begin to deepen and expand the inhale. *Fill air into the belly and press out through the ribs, back and then the chest to get a full inhale. Pause with this full inhale. As you begin to exhale, allow air to escape from your chest, then pull the ribs and diaphragm in and lastly squeeze the belly towards the spine. Pause with your lungs empty. This exhale assures that you release all the air from your lungs, fully emptying out so that you can fill again with clean, fresh air. Continue to breath like this for 3-5 more breaths*.
This is a called a Full or 3-Part Breath because you use the entire expanse of your thoracic and abdominal cavities. It can be difficult at first to expand into all 3 areas (the belly, the lower ribs and the chest). So don’t worry if it feels awkward. Don’t overexert yourself but let it flow smoothly and build on it over time. You will probably find that the chest fills even though you are trying to fill the belly or vice versa. This is normal. It is the extended expansion & contraction that are focussed in the areas stated.
Once you’re comfortable with the Full Breath, you can use it to help you through stressful situations. Moments when you notice your breath is short, shallow or rapid, try doing a few cycles of the Full Breath and watch how it gently soothes your tension, frustration or anxiety!