Mind & Spirit, Quarto Lives | 21 May 2020Breathing Techniques (Pranayama) Share article facebook twitter google pinterest The most important part of your meditation practice is something that you do every minute of the day. Learning to focus on and control your breath is a key element of meditation. When done effectively, pranayama breathing will help amplify feelings of peace and calm, move you into a deeper meditative state, and strengthen your connection to your inner self. Pranayama is a Sanskrit word that roughly translates to extension of life force. The word prana means life force or breath, while ayama means to extend or draw out. In the yoga tradition, breath is believed to carry our life force—our “vital air”—throughout all the parts of our bodies, affecting change in both our physical bodies and energy levels. Maintaining a regular practice of controlling the breath is essential for recharging the body and mind. Yoga practitioners believe that the quantity and quality of our life force—our breath—determines our state of mind. When we are not present to our breath—perhaps we are holding it in, taking shallow breaths, or breathing unevenly—it can lead to worry, tension, and stress. When our breath is full, continuous, smooth, and consistent, our mind is calm, enthusiastic, and positive. By practicing simple breathing techniques, it’s possible to create a meditation practice you’ll want to return to again and again, and to improve your overall experience of life. Practice your breathing techniques with your eyes closed or focused gently on an object in front of you. Easy Breath This breathing technique is the simplest to perform. It requires only that you focus your attention on your natural inhales and exhales. There’s no need to manipulate your breathing pattern—no counting and no pressure to make your breaths deep, long, or even. Your job at this moment is to pay attention to what’s happening in the here and now. Think of your breath as a messenger reporting on your current physical and energetic condition. If your breathing is short and shallow, you might be worried or tired. Long, deep breaths are indicative of a more peaceful, calm, and relaxed state. Instead of changing your breath, check in to see what it’s telling you. It might be helpful to know that just paying attention to something can often lead to it changing—no big effort required. For instance, you might find that your breath is short and shallow at the beginning of your meditation, but it becomes smoother, longer, and deeper as you focus on it. How to Practice Easy Breath With your eyes closed or focused on your chosen object, follow your breath as it moves past your nostrils, in through your nose, and down the back of your throat.Allow your chest to rise as your lungs fill with air.Allow the muscles in your abdomen to loosen as your breath fills you up even more.Take a moment at the top of your breath to pause. Then, observe your breath as it exits your body, feeling your belly and your lungs contract, and taking note of the temperature and quality of your breath as it makes its way up through your throat again and out of your mouth. Even Breath Another simple breathing technique perfect for calming your mind and body is Even Breath. Practicing this method is as easy as matching the length of each inhale with the following exhale. Your Even Breath should be smooth and quiet, but also intentional and measured. You’re going to count silently to yourself to make sure each inhale and exhale match in duration. If you count to four on your inhale, all you have to do is count to four as you exhale. How to Practice Even Breath Close your eyes or focus gently on your meditation object, and inhale through your nose, counting slowly as your lungs fill full with air. Exhale through your mouth while allowing your jaw to relax and lips to part softly, making sure your exhale is the exact length of your inhale. Empty your lungs. Pause for a moment or two before beginning your next breath cycle. About the Author Rebekah “Bex” Borucki, founder of BexLife® and the Blissed In® wellness movement, is a mother of five, TV host, meditation guide, best-selling author, birth doula, and life transformation and resilience coach. Visit BexLife.com to connect with Rebekah and her online community. Calm and Clear Mindfulness Kit $16.99 Buy in US / Canada Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.