The other day I had all kinds of thoughts in my head...which is not exactly a bad thing, except that my body was tense and it was hard to stay focused. It's what some people call going bonkers!
Can you guess what I did to relax and feel better? I focused on my breath, of course!
Youthful Yogis know that the way we breathe affects the way we feel. That's why an important part of any yoga practice includes attention on the breath. The name for this aspect of our practice is Pranayama, and it is sometimes defined as controlled or regulated breathing.
|"This is a super hard pose but, just so you know, I'm still focused on my breath!"
Pranayama, or regulated breathing, can be practiced while you are doing yoga poses on your mat, or at any other time when you want to quiet the mind and relax the body. Ultimately, Pranayama techniques prepare us for meditation...and that's a good thing!
|"It's true...I practiced Pranayama and now I'm in my happy place."
|"Thanks to Pranayama, I am super cool...and I didn't even have to turn down the AC!"
Here are three Pranayama techniques to try:
Belly Breathing sounds pretty simple, but the effects are huge! The smooth, deep quality of this breath relaxes the body and quiets the mind. Belly Breathing can release both mental and physical tension and it's also a great practice to do if you ever need help falling asleep at night.
|I wanted this guy to talk to you about Pranayama, but the Belly Breathing put him to sleep!
2) Ujjayi Breath: It's easier to learn this technique from a real person, rather than from instructions in an uber fantastic blog. But let's give Ujjayi a whirl....sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor: make sure your spine is long and your shoulders are relaxed. Open your mouth and yawn, then close your mouth and finish the yawn by exhaling out of your nose.
3) Sitali Breath: There are a lot of reasons why I love this Pranayama technique...#1 is because we get to do something called "taco tongue!"
|I just want to say...YUM!
Sit in a chair or on the floor; as always, make sure you are comfortable and that you are sitting up pretty tall. Open your mouth a little and try curling the outer edges of your tongue in, like the shape of a taco (not everyone has a tongue that will make a taco shape...if you can't do "taco tongue", simply open your mouth slightly, bring your teeth together, and allow your tongue to rest behind the front teeth.) Next, inhale slowly through your mouth, you can lift your chin slightly when you breathe in, if you like. Feel the breath being cooled as it slowly moves over the surface of your tongue.
|Sitali Breath with "taco tongue"
When you are ready to release the breath, exhale slowly out of your nose and bring your chin down, if it was lifted. You can do Sitali Breath for as long as you like, often 5 rounds (1 round is an inhalation and an exhalation) is a good way to begin. Sitali Breath cools you down and helps you to relax. You can practice Sitali at any time of day...and it's a fun technique to share with family and friends.
|"We know you don't believe we actually practice yoga...but trust us, Sitali Breath is awesome!"
|The opposite of bonkers!
Stay healthy and I'll see you again soon!