Yoga is a means of manipulating your form to encourage health and wellbeing. It creates a container for the breath, which regulates the nervous system. When our breath is long and deep, our body is in a state of harmony. This mitigates dis-ease. When our breath is quick and rapid our body experiences stress. Breath rate is inversely linked with life span so these practices eventually aim at you becoming master of your breath, thus master of your nervous system, creator of your world.
Below are a few practices you can use to keep your lungs strong and learn the intricate nature of your breath and your thoughts.
- Lie on your back, place your feet on the ground wider than hip distance, knees bent at a ninety-degree angle from shin to floor.
- Knees touch and thighs wrap inwards, which widens the sacral plate, creating space in the whole pelvic bowl.
- Articulate the natural waves of spine: sacrum, thoracic spine, and head will be making contact with the ground, the lower back and cervical spine will be arched off the ground.
- Soften your abdomen. Our culture subconsciously imprints a holding pattern of the belly. Let that conditioning dissolve with the exhale.
- As you breathe in, imagine you are expanding your pelvis 360 degrees. This natural expansion will soften your pelvic floor downwards and simultaneously lift your lumbar curve off the ground.
- When you exhale, allow everything to return to neutral. Your lower back will come more earthward, but will still be slightly off the ground for a neutral pelvis.
- Start in seated pose that is comfortable for you, allowing enough height so you are not sitting on your tail (a chair works here too).
- Fists are together in front of the sternum, forearms are parallel with the ground.
- On a quick inhale, you stretch the elbows back and open the chest, keeping the forearms parallel with the ground and tipping forwards onto the pubic bone.
- On a quick exhale, you curl onto your tail and pull the fists together in front of your sternum, stretching the back muscles back.
- Repeat as many times as you want. Give yourself a number and stick to it.
- If you are feeling lethargic doing this swiftly will help generate heat in the body. This heat comes from effort, granting exhilaration and excitement.
- If you are feeling overstimulated, go slow. A steady pace offers an opportunity to tune into the nuanced undulation through your spine.
- Ensure that you are seated on your perineum (between tail and pubic bone). If you aren’t, use a folded blanket, bolster, or any sort of height under your seat.
- Feet are hip distance, or one foot distance apart.
- To ensure you are truly in your hips, your knees will bend enough to fit into your armpits.
- Place two blocks, a towel, or a bolster under your hamstrings so you don’t have to work to keep the knees bent.
- Give yourself a time limit: say, five minutes.
- Count your breath in that five minutes, working to slow it down, to breathe less.
- Next time, work for less breaths per minute: the key to longevity and a calm centered mind.