A Breath Awareness Practice

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During our week of teacher in-service I had a chance to do a breath awareness practice with my co-workers.  Here is the script I wrote and used.  If you’re not familiar with Pranayama, it’s usually practiced along with yoga and meditation.  Below I have listed some of the benefits a pranayama practice.

Breath Awareness – Pranayama

Benefits of Pranayama

  • Relaxes muscles
  • Slow down and relax
  • Connect body and mind
  • Calming
  • Activates the parasympathetic nervous system
  • Increase oxygen to all areas of the body
  • Strengthens lungs
  • Slower heart rate
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces anger and frustration
  • Boosts confidence

What happens in the breath
Inhale: Diaphragm drops, the rib cage expands, air comes in
Exhale: Diaphragm goes up, the rib cage contracts, air is released

4 part belly breath:
Breathing takes place through the nose on inhales and exhales, in 3 parts and a pause. It is beneficial to move through the process slowly.

Tip:
Imagine your breath like a wave where there is a seamless transition between the inhales and exhales. As you practice more you will notice your breath becoming smooth, even, and connected.

The practice:*
Find a comfortable place to sit (a chair is great, or on the floor).  Make sure you feel supported.  If you’re sitting in a chair make sure your feet are flat on the ground.  Find a comfortable place to rest your hands on your legs.  Roll your shoulders down your back.  Take a moment to notice how you feel (energy level, how you feel, any sensations, etc…). Then begin the pranayama practice:

  1. Inhale slowly through your nose, fill your belly first, second the rib cage, then the chest.
  2. Pause at the top of your inhale for just a moment.
  3. Exhale slowly through your nose beginning from your chest, then your rib cage, and last into your belly.
  4. Pause at the bottom of your exhale.
  5. Repeat 5-25 times (depending on how much time you have).
  6. Pause after you complete the desired number of rounds to see if you notice any sensations. Remember that it’s a practice, so no need to judge yourself.

*(Remember that you are your own best judge of what feels good.  If you feel uncomfortable stop at any moment.  This is only a suggested practice.)

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