Happy World Breathing Day! How about a short
breathing practice to celebrate?
We have all been breathing every day for our entire lives, so we don’t need a lot of information to get started with a breathing practice or pranayama practice—we’ve already been doing the preparation, which is that we were born, started breathing, and now here we are. So, no need to delay further. Please sit comfortably either on the floor, in a chair, or supported against a wall. There’s no need at this point to sit super straight or in a complicated cross-legged position.
The first practice is simply to be aware that you are
breathing. Take a few minutes to begin observing and feeling the breath moving in and out of your nostrils, in and out of your body. As you bring your awareness to your breath, it might start to change. Because breathing is an automatic process, we are usually not aware of it until it does something out of the ordinary—like if we’ve been running or climbing a flight of stairs and we feel out of breath, or we get frightened and our breathing speeds up, or we are in a panic and start to
hyperventilate. In normal, everyday life, we are seldom aware that we are indeed breathing beings.
So, take a few minutes to be aware that you are breathing,
and feel it. You can close your eyes if you like, or keep your eyes gazing towards the ground, or your hands in your lap. Observe and feel the changes that naturally and spontaneously happen as you keep your awareness with your breathing. Try doing this for at least three minutes, and if it’s enjoyable, for up to fifteen minutes. If you feel any anxiety or stress while doing this practice, open your eyes, take two or three really deep breaths, and then get up and go do something else for a
little while, something that brings your awareness away from your breathing, and grounds you back in your body. If you are not used to sitting with your breath, it can be a little unnerving in the beginning, but then, with incremental practice, you not only become used to it but look forward to it.
As we breathe, oxygen comes into the lungs and is picked
up by red blood cells, which then carry and distribute the oxygen they carry to every single cell and tissue in our body. These cells then make use of oxygen to carry out all of our life functions. We are truly a breathing body, and much of the breathing that occurs is internal, called cellular respiration. As you do this first practice, imagine your
whole body breathing with each gentle breath that comes into and then leaves your lungs.
As well, we are not simply discrete breathing bodies, but
the world we live in is a breathing body as well. The biosphere that we live in circulates oxygen, water, heat and all the basic components of life. So for your next few breaths see if you can feel your breath as an extension of the breath of the biosphere. The pulsation of breath is the pulsation of life.
Happy breathing, and happy world breathing
PS Some small announcements:
1. Jocelyne will teach a 1/2 primary series led class in the temple on Saturday, April 16th. You can register for that here.
2. In May there will be no classes from the 2nd until the 8th (finals week). Classes will start again on the 9th.
3. We will have a few schedule changes in May—all led classes will now include pranayama and start at 6:30am; self-paced practices will begin at 8am EST; and the Monday One Hour Asana class will now be one hour and
fifteen minutes. Gonna need a new name.
4. There will be no one-week break in June.
That's about all I can remember for now! Peace and Love.