In a previous post, I offered a little breathing exercise to help with relaxation, sleep, and feeling awesome!
Here is another simple breathing technique to explore I think of as “breathing your body” . . .
While I am uncertain of the exact origins of this technique, it has been taught to me more or less in similar fashion by several yoga teachers (including Sarah and Lydia) from diverse backgrounds as well as several bodyworkers also from diverse backgrounds and training.
A wonderful bodyworker I have been fortunate to have work on my achey body, Bruce Winstone, has posted a wonderful tutorial on breathing “exercises” on his website where he explains the “body breathing” technique as well . . . worth checking out!
Steps to a happier body and mind . . .
- Space: Find a quiet space to lie on your back for 10-30 minutes (or longer if you want!)
- Body position: There are a few options . . . those who have tension in the lower back may find it more comfortable to lie on the back either with knees bent and hip width apart or place 1 or 2 pillows under the knees. Otherwise, lie on your back; no pillow is necessary under the head, but you may want to cover yourself with a blanket to keep warm.
- Focus: As in the previous post, begin with drawing your attention to your breath without trying to control it – just notice it . . . its quality . . . its location in the body . . . how it feels . . .
- Breathe the front belly: Place your hands gently on the top of your belly and gently bring your attention to breathing into the space under your hands . . . remember this is not a forced exercise . . . the key words here are gently and attention . . . breathe into the space of your front belly for 5-10 breaths . . . and don’t worry about the exact count here!
- Breathe the side belly: Move your hands comfortably to your sides (either palms out or in depending on what is most relaxing) and as before, bring your attention to breathing into the space under your hands. Breathe into the side belly for 5-10 breaths, again not worrying about counting.
- Breathe the back belly: If it’s comfortable, move your fingers under your mid back near your lower ribs (I find it most comfortable with my palms down on the floor). If this is not comfortable, rest your hands on your front belly. Bring your attention to breathing into the space of the back belly, where your hands may be touching if comfortable. Breathing into the back belly may be tricky to feel at first, so relax . . . just bringing some awareness to the back will help to bring space there. Breathe into the back belly space for 5-10 breaths . . .
- Breathe the whole belly (and body): Resting your hands on your front belly, breathe into all 4 sides of your belly . . . the front, back, and sides . . . again by bringing gentle awareness . . .
As for the benefits of “breathing the body”, besides mental relaxation, I also find it helpful with bringing ease and fluidity to my physical body.
I will leave with a lovely image I often relate to the gentle fluidity that is breathing and moving . . . the mesmerizingly simple swimming jellyfish . . .