Saturday, December 4, 2010

Slow Down

Earlier this week, Salt Lake valley was buried in about 5 feet of snow. Needless to say, I was up early one morning, shoveling snow from my driveway and sidewalk. It also meant a slower commute to work as the roads were still slick with snow and ice. Everyone else was driving more slowly, too. (Thank goodness.)

Sometimes, it is a very good idea to slow down. Weather like this is a good reminder for us to pay closer attention to our actions as well as the actions of others....particularly when you're driving.

Another way you can slow down and move throughout your day more calmly is to pay closer attention to your breath. If we really took note of the flow of breath, we may find that we breath shallowly. We rarely take deep breaths and if we do, we have to do it consciously. But because we breath involuntarily, our breathing style can be pretty sporadic. In times of stress, for example, we may even STOP breathing! That's right, we actually stop breathing....momentarily, of course.

Let's take a moment, especially as the weather is changing and we're entering into another busy holiday season, to slow down the pace by paying close attention to the breath.

Find a comfortable sitting posture. This may be on the floor on your yoga mat or even sitting comfortably at your dining room table or on the sofa. Close your eyes and begin to take note of your breath. You don't have to do anything special with your breath at this point...just realize that your breathing. Breathe with intention.

You are welcome to keep the breath easy and light or you can engage your Ujjayi breath to raise the energy and intention of the breathing effort. To engage the Ujjayi breath, inhale through your nose while engaging your throat muscles to move the breath. Feel breath rise and expand your lungs and extend your spine. When you exhale, draw your navel in toward your spine in order to hold the breath high up in your body. Keep breathing like this for 5 more breaths.

Now begin to pay attention to the pace of your breath. Using a slow count (1...2...3...) count the pace of your inhale. Do the same with the exhale (1...2...3...). Notice how many beats it takes to draw in breath and how many beats it takes to release breath. They may or not be the same. If they are not the same, take the next few moments of this breathing exercise to bring your breath into balance. You may need to increase the pace of your inhale by one or two beats or slow down the pace of your exhale to match the inhale. Do what ever feels right to bring your breath to balance. By doing this Pranayama exercise, you are completely mindful of your breath. This is a great practice to bring more attention and intention to your everyday life.

Continue your Balanced Breath for 5-10 breaths. After you are done, notice how you feel. Do you feel light? Relaxed? Less hurried? If yes...then good work. Namaste.

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