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
- 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.
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.
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:
- Inhale slowly through your nose, fill your belly first, second the rib cage, then the chest.
- Pause at the top of your inhale for just a moment.
- Exhale slowly through your nose beginning from your chest, then your rib cage, and last into your belly.
- Pause at the bottom of your exhale.
- Repeat 5-25 times (depending on how much time you have).
- 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.)