Breath and Relaxation


Yoga teaches us to be aware of the breath. When we’re in touch with the breath, we’re in touch with the body. We know that the breath, the body, and the mind are closely connected and we constantly observe how one affects the other. To demonstrate this for yourself, you might take a breath in through your nose and then gently sigh out the breath through your mouth. Do this again. How do you feel? As your breathing quiets down, you might observe areas of your body beginning to relax. Maybe your shoulders drop a little, your face softens a bit. As breath flows through your nose and throat, you might sense this area softening and becoming more open to the breath. Tracing the breath down into the lungs now, you can sense the lungs gently filling and emptying. And, all around the lungs, you might even feel the ribcage relaxing. The ribcage softens and you can feel the movement of breath here as a gentle expansion and contraction. Now, as you relax the area below the lungs, you sense the abdomen softening. Any tension in the abdomen is released and you’re breathing deeply into the belly.

You sense for yourself how this slow deep breathing relaxes your body. You might also observe a change in your mental attitude. When your body is relaxed, your mind quiets down. Gradually you find that you’re able to let go of anxious thoughts. It feels like breath, body, and mind are now in harmony.

Most of our thinking involves something that happened in the past or that might happen in the future. Too often we allow ourselves to be ruled by our past conditioning. We see the world only through the limited and biased perceptions of our mind. We shape our reality out of the past and lose sight of the present. But the past is over and the future is unknowable. Only the present is real. Through our Yoga practice we learn to be aware of each moment, to be fully present. As we immerse ourselves in the moment to moment experience of living, we can trust in the wisdom of the body to guide us. Take a breath and let go. Allow this moment to be tranquil and serene. Peace above, peace below, peace all around, and peace within.

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