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3 part breath

City Calm in 3,2,1 with 2-1 Breathing

City Calm in 3,2,1 with 2-1 Breathing

My yogi toolkit is a collection of short practices I count on to bring balance and calm to my day. These practices are a great way to supplement a yoga practice when I have a few minutes to spare.

One simple practice I carry in my yogi toolkit is 2-1 breathing, or Rechaka Pranayama. This simple breathing exercise doubles the length of the exhale, bringing stress relief to body and mind. It is the perfect antidote for anxiety, insomnia and stress. Unlike other pranayama techniques, this practice can be done anytime, anywhere, without the supervision of an instructor.

Practice this yoga gem the next time you have a few minutes to spare and want to quiet the mind and regain focus. It is a great exercise to have in your back pocket and I highly recommend adding it to your yogi toolkit :)

The how to:

Begin by taking a tall seat, with the legs crossed. Ideally the hips are higher than the knees. Feel free to sit on a blanket or yoga block if this makes this alignment possible and/or feels better for your back. Close the eyes and begin to breathe evenly in and out through the nose.

Once you feel you have established a consistent rhythm, breathe in for the count of 2 and breathe out for the count of 4. Take a few rounds of this breath ratio. As you are ready, increase the breath ratio by inhaling for the count of 3 and exhale for the count of 6, then progressing to a ratio of 4 to 8, and so on. Take care not to push past your breath capacity. This exercise should feel calming and should not create strain.

Take this 2-1 breath for a few minutes, or until you feel the mind settle. Once you feel ready, take a few even breaths, bringing the breath back into a steady, equal rhythm. Open your eyes and continue your day, with a bit more calm and clarity. 

Just a few minutes of Rechaka Pranayama has the ability to quiet the mind. Try it out the next time you need to recenter, such as the next time your train is stalled! Give it a try for instant calm.

Just a few minutes of Rechaka Pranayama has the ability to quiet the mind. Try it out the next time you need to recenter, such as the next time your train is stalled! Give it a try for instant calm.

Self Care Sunday

Self Care Sunday

If you have been practicing yoga for a while, there is a good chance you have heard the yoga cue to “breathe into your heart.” The verbal assist is meant to energize the inner body of the chest, as well as open the physiological body by making more space in the sternum, widening the collar bones, creating a sense of lightness, promoting good posture, and a developing a feeling of freedom in the upper body. 

While this verbal cue might sound abstract, it is actually an anatomically sound instruction. When we breathe in, the diaphragm (the dome-shaped muscle primarily responsible for the act of respiration) contracts downward, creating more space for air entering the body. When we exhale, the diaphragm relaxes upwards, assisting our bodies in the release of air. This not only allows for our full, deep yoga breathing, but the pumping action of the diaphragm also massages the heart. Therefore, we can literally breathe into our hearts!

We could all use some self-care techniques in our back pocket. Practice this exercise anytime you need to connect with your breath and de-stress. This pranayama can be practiced in any pose with a long spine and a free abdomen, such as an upright seated position, savasana, or supta baddha konasana. 

3-part breath (dirga swasam pranayama), The Step by Step:

Find your seated or supine pose and bring your attention to your breath. Allow the breath to be continuous as you initiate your inhale from the low belly, lift the breath into the rib cage/diaphragm, and then the chest. Once you reach the top of your inhale and your chest, take a long, continuous exhale, following the same path in reverse. If helpful, you can use your hands to guide your breath as you move up and down the torso, as shown in this video.

Inhale: one long breath into the low belly, rib cage, chest
Exhale: one long breath out through the chest, rib cage, low belly
Repeat 5-10 rounds. you may slowly start to lengthen the breath as you feel ready.

Benefits:

    •    teaches one to breath fully and deeply
    •    can calm and ground the mind
    •    can help to decrease stress and anxiety
    •    can help one to focus on the present moment

*Proceed with caution with this and all breathing exercises, especially if you have a respiratory condition. as with all pranayama, stop if you feel light headed.