In the last part, we spoke about a simple exercise – just watching the breath.
In case you did practice it, you would have observed…the breath!
Well, you would have also realised that the breath varies with different activities. It tends to speed up when we are actively involved in physical activity or slows down as we do something that requires a high level of concentration (threading a needle with a very small eye, perhaps!)
Yogis (practitioners of yoga) say the breath and the lifespan are aligned. The slower you breath naturally, the better is the energy (prana) and hence the quality of life.
Swami Sivananda (one of the greatest Indian yogis) has said, “a yogi measures the span of his life not by the number of years but by the number of his breaths.”
Recent studies have reiterated a strong relationship between better breathing, the fullness of life, and longevity.
So, how does one get to breathing well?
Breathing exercise – Equalising the breath
While we are working on the breath here, it may be unfair to technically term this as Pranayama, hence let’s just call it a breathing exercise.
What is the breath?
We can split the breath into 3 parts:
- The in-breath or inhalation
- The out-breath or exhalation
- Retention post inhalation and suspension post exhalation
In this exercise, we shall focus on equalising the duration of inhalation and exhalation.
You can close your eyes (once you read the instructions!)
How to perform the exercise?
- Sit in any comfortable posture, either on the floor or on a chair.
- Set a timer for 3-4 minutes.
- Keep the back straight and chin parallel to the ground, so there’s no obstruction to the breath.
- Focus your attention on the breath.
Inhaling, mentally count 1—-2—-and exhaling mentally count 1—–2—–
Continue this cycle – inhale 1—-2—-and exhale 1—–2—– until the timer goes off or you feel any discomfort.
Once the timer goes off, stop the counts and let the breath come back to normal.
Observe the mind for any hustle-bustle or just some calmness.
What will you gain?
One benefits from this exercise, only through a longer duration of practice.
It will (like every other breathing exercise):
- Improve your breathing technique
- Improve lung capacity over time
- Calm down the mind
- Improve concentration and awareness
When you can/can’t do it?
You may do this several times in the day for 3-5 minutes.
While this simple exercise can be done any time, you may find it difficult to do it immediately after consuming your meals or heavy snacks.
What if you find it tough to focus? Aha! Don’t worry. Just let that stress go, and try to practice yet again!
I will be back with more breathing techniques to get you closer to your breath, and hence, the self!
Until then, watch your breath, live life, Live Yoga, and wish you a very Happy International Yoga Day!
Anand Ramaswamy, Founder, We Live Yoga – Join the Movement. Connect with him on [email protected]