Over the past couple of years I tried a few yoga classes at my gym. I was not regimentated and only went when I felt like it. However, over the past several months I started going at least once a week. Generally, I love the feeling of stretching but now I love the feeling of laying on my back and doing nothing but breathing deeply with eyes closed.
Stretching is a necessity for muscles to lose tension and grow; however, it also helps calm the mind. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defines “asana” as “to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed.” However, there is more to yoga than the physical aspects.
Pranayama. Prana means breath sustaining the body. Ayama means to extend or draw out. Togehter, pranayama means breath extension or control. While Asana is medidation on the body, pranayama is mediation on the mind and breath.
There are many ways to breathe such as breathing through one nostril or quick fast inhalations and exhalations. However, my favorite is laying down on my back and inhaling for 10 seconds and exhaling for 10 seconds. Yogis and yoginis teach us to be aware of our breath during yoga. In contrast, I tend to forget to focus on my breathing during a class so sometimes just laying there can help us become more aware.
Research shows that breathing practices help decrease stress and reduce pain. It also can improve our sleep. Thus, breathing practices are powerful and you never know how much you can appreciate these 5 minutes.
What kind of breathing practices do you enjoy? Please share.