When I began to practice yoga, I loved the challenge of the poses. When I went through yoga instructor training, I was blown away by the value of deep breathing. Deep breathing can be so beneficial because, when practiced correctly, it can support the parasympathetic nervous system and activate what is commonly known as the "relaxation response," reducing stress and its effects on your body and mind.
andThe easiest way to be more fully aware of how shallow and short your unconscious breath is - it to count it. When I am breathing naturally - without thinking - I breath in for about 2-3 seconds and out for 2-3 seconds. If I'm in crisis, it's closer to 1-2 seconds for each inhale and exhale.
In order to deepen your breath, count to 4 on each inhale and exhale. Try counting to 5, or 6, or 7, or 8. An 8 count breath is at the high end of what I'm comfortable with. And of course, it's rather subjective as I may count slowly at times and quicker at other times. The purpose of the exercise is to simply take deeper, slower, and more even breaths.
Counting over and over can be soothing - or it can be tedious (and my mind begins to wander, honestly). So rather than just counting - I have learned to use Scripture Verses to breath to. I find a short 2-4 line phrase from my Bible and inhale for half of it and exhale for the other half. It's tenfold more powerful as now I'm transforming my body, my mind AND my spirit. Now I can break cyclical thoughts, destructive thoughts, lies in my head, anxiety, depression, etc - by repeating scripture over and over as I take deep breaths.
Not only is it incredible throughout my yoga practice, but it's also incredible off my mat and during my day when I need calming (and with four children - that's often). The great thing about finding scripture verses to breathe to and repeating them over and over and over is that you memorize scripture easily.
My Favorite Breath Verse
My favorite verse, my go-to verse, is one that applies to almost all circumstances and guides a morning yoga class to set me (and all my yogis) up for a great day.
Psalm 118:24 - This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
I inhale during the first line - nice and slow. I exhale slowly during the second line and personalize it by saying that "I will rejoice and be glad in it." This verse is so powerful because it reminds me that this day was created long before I ever stepped into it - that God has arranged my day and knows what I am going through before I ever go through it.
It also reminds me that it is a CHOICE to rejoice and be glad. I can choose to dwell on unnecessary thoughts that do more harm than good, or I can choose to rejoice (to sing, to praise, to count my blessings) and be glad. If I start the day this way - I have a wonderfully pleasant day.
I did a thing
I think this is so powerful in my own life and those who come to my classes tell me that it is impactful in their lives as well. I love talking about Breath Verses and sharing it with everyone I can, so I decided to design a shirt to promote it and share with others! It's a beginning point - I'm not making any money off of these shirts, in fact I purchased one as well. If you like the shirt but have other feedback or would like a different shirt - I'd love feedback! :) I'm placing this order in a week - so if you are interested, purchase it soon! If you live farther away and would like one shipped to you - I'll work on that next.
About the Blogger
Haley is passionate about Raw Food and how God has used it to heal her. She loves to share what she knows with anyone who is curious, and finds herself talking to everyone around her about her lifestyle.