Tag Archives: meditate

Breathwork

Breathwork has become one of my favorite meditation techniques to teach my clients and to practice for myself. Breathwork is an active meditation technique in which we practice a controlled breath, allowing us to enter a meditative state in order release stress, tension, and blocked energy from the body and mind while achieving a wide array of benefits.

Some benefits of breathwork include:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increased focus

Controlled breathwork techniques can achieve these benefits by calming the central nervous system, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, and oxygenating the blood.  One recent study found that during breathwork exercises several brain regions linked to emotion, attention, and body awareness are active (source).  This suggests that the breath is a powerful tool for tapping into those brain regions to regulate stress and awareness.  More research is being conducted on breathwork and the findings are showing the benefits are not only psychological but also physiological and physical (source).

Now there are many different breathwork techniques with various origins and benefits.  In my opinion, no one technique is greater than the other – all just different tools we can use to achieve greater wellness in body and mind.  Below are a few of my favorite breathwork techniques with background, written instructions, and audio instructions.

Breathwork Techniques


Rest Breath

Benefits –

  • Activates Parasympathetic Nervous System
  • Reduces stress

Formula –

  • Inhale for 4, Exhale for 6
  • Repeat for 2 -10 minutes


Box Breath

Benefits –

  • Sharpens focus

Formula –

  • Inhale for 4 seconds – Hold for 4 seconds – Exhale for 4 seconds – Hold for 4 seconds
  • Repeat for 2-5 minutes

Ladder Breath

Benefits –

  • Clears mind and sharpens focus

Formula –

  • Inhale for 1 – Exhale for 1 – Inhale for 2 – Exhale for 2 – Inhale for 3 – Exhale for 3 – Inhale for 4 – Exhale for 4
  • Begin again at 1 and work up to 4
  • Repeat for 2-5 minutes

4-4-8 Breath

Benefits –

  • Releases stress and tension

Formula –

  • Inhale for 4 – Hold for 4 – Exhale for 8
  • Make the 8 second exhales out of the mouth
  • Repeat for 2-5 minutes

4-7-8 Breath

Benefits –

  • Calms the nervous system

Formula –

  • Inhale for 4 – Hold for 7 – Exhale for 8
  • Make the 8 second exhales out of the mouth
  • Repeat for 2-5 minutes

Interrupted Breath

Benefits –

  • Cooling effect
  • Quickly release tension and rest

Formula –

  • Take 3 quick inhales through your nose – Take 1 long exhale out of the mouth
  • Only repeat for 30 seconds to 1 minute

Sun & Moon Breath

Benefits –

  • Balances left and right sides of the brain

Formula –

  • Plug right nostril and inhale through left nostril for 2-3 – Plug left nostril, open right nostril, and exhale through right nostril for 2-3 – Inhale right nostril for 2-3 – Plug right nostril, open left nostril, and exhale through left nostril for 2-3
  • Repeat for 1-2 minutes

3 Part Breath (Dirga Pranayama)

Benefits –

  • Grounding breath
  • Increases oxygen flow
  • Inspires presence

Formula –

  • Inhale deeply to chest, then ribs, then belly – Exhale deeply from belly, then ribs, then chest
  • Repeat for 2-10 minutes


Enjoyed the information in this article? Let me know in the comments and feel free to share out into the world! Happy Breathing 🙂

“What to Remember When You Start to Doubt Yourself as a Yoga Teacher” on Elephant Journal!

Ciao friends! My most recent article, “What to Remember When You Start to Doubt Yourself as a Yoga Teacher” has been published on Elephant Journal! Very happy to be contributing regularly to this great publication. Please give it a read by following the link below:

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2018/04/what-to-remember-when-you-start-to-doubt-yourself-as-a-yoga-teacher/

 

Saucha and the Spring

In yoga, we practice principles called the Yamas and Niyamas. These principles are essentially positive codes to live by – I often refer to them as the 10 Commandments of Yoga. Back in November around Thanksgiving time, I discussed Santosha, which translates to contentment or gratitude, and is one of the Niyamas. For that post, please click here. Today, I am moving onto another of the Niyamas: Saucha.

From Sanskrit, Saucha translates to “cleanliness” or “purity”, and it applies to many different facets of our lives. Saucha is a concept, or in the definition of a Niyama – a positive duty – that I have come to value a great deal. When we talk about Saucha, we talk about cleanliness in our environments, in our bodies, and in our mental and spiritual spaces as well. The big idea is that when we regularly purify and keep clean these different areas of our lives, it allows us to live in our best health physically and emotionally, which then allow us to more freely pursue our spiritual journeys.

So what does it mean to practice Saucha in these various corners of our lives? Let’s break down.

organized.jpg

The practice of Saucha in environment means a few different things. The first is keeping clean our immediate living spaces; yes, this means cleaning your room, organizing your cubicle, clearing out the fridge every so often, and so forth. We need to have clean spaces to live and operate in, when we have our immediate environments clean and tidy, it allows us to operate more efficiently and healthfully which allows the mind to reflect that state of purity and order as well. Friends of mine have commented on how impeccable I keep my room and how I seem to be quite diligent about cleaning my apartment; this is because I really value having a nice, clean space for myself to live in and especially at home rest in.

Beyond our immediate living spaces, Saucha in relation to environment also means working to keep a clean community and ultimately world. Saucha would encourage us to adopt sustainable practices, to not litter, when we see litter to have a hand in helping to pick it up and dispose of it properly. For me, this means lending a helping hand every so often at a beach clean-up through my yoga studio, it also means being more diligent about recycling and actively working to reduce my plastic consumption, and at the very least, it means not littering myself. If we can all work to practice Saucha on a larger scale through small individualized means, it can equate to a cleaner and purer Earth for all, which is very important at this time.

nourish

The practice of Saucha in the body is much what you would think it be: taking care of your body, your temple. Saucha in the body means nourishing your body with whole foods, providing it with the necessary amount of sleep, moving it to keep its internal functions working well, sweating to cleanse from within. In many ways, this is the simplest part of the practice of Saucha; we all know that we should strive to take good care of ourselves, but it’s often an area we fall flat in. Once you practice taking good care of your body, however, it is amazing the difference you feel; and that eventually translates from a physical space to a mental and emotional one as well.

meditate

That is the perfect transition into the final practice of Saucha; Saucha in the mind space. This area of the practice is a bit more challenging, and one could argue it is a bit subjective as well. The way I look at the practice of Saucha when it comes to the mind is cleaning out and releasing old thought patterns and mentalities and generally negative thoughts that are not serving in the present. Sometimes, we mentally cling to old ideas or ways of thinking about or working out happenings in our lives; when they no longer serve us, it is time to let them go and embrace new types of thoughts that are positive and do serve us. Just as it is important to regularly clean your bathroom and detox your body, it is also equally important to tend to the mind and emotions in such a way as well, constantly cleaning out so that nothing potent grows and always making space for good and light to come in.

spring

As we transition into Spring, we enter into a season of cleaning, a season of Saucha. We resew and water the garden, we deep clean our homes, and we reorganize the disarrayed garage. This is a great time to reconnect with the idea of Saucha, recognize how good it feels to practice it, and then make a commitment to regularly practice Saucha more often throughout your daily life. Clean space, clean body, clean mind – feeling clean typically means feeling good and who doesn’t want to feel good all of the time?

A Good Morning

We live in a culture where morning is a mad rush of chaos, stress, and frantic energy. We have been trained that when the alarm clock goes off, we must fly out of the bed like a jet off of an airport runway and launch ourselves with reckless abandon into the day while repeating the mantra, “I must get as much done as possible, I must make as much money as possible, I must get as much done as possible,” etc etc. I have found that this mentality that we have adopted for the sunrise hours sets us up for a more stressful, not fulfilling, and negative day overall.

Luckily, there are small practices that you can weave into your current morning routine to inspire calm, healthy, positive energy for the rest of your day. Of course, mornings will continue to be busy. And I am sorry to say that if you are a commuter with children, that editing your morning routine as it is now is decidedly more challenging. I still, however, encourage you to try to start your day off on a better note by including one or two of these practices in your sunrise hours. You may have to wake up a bit earlier, you may have to do some prepping the night before, but the overall shift in your daily life will be well worth it.

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