Deep Breathwork to Enliven Your Core

It’s been a few months since I have written due to my travels. In August I attended a workshop in the UK by international teacher Ana Forrest and was inspired by her brand of yoga. She has an intense focus on the breath in such a deep and profound way that you have no choice but to be completely present and focused. You cannot use speed and momentum to move through the postures. Completely aligned with the breath, you develop an awareness of all the muscles involved in every movement. The physical practice becomes a moving meditation.

Since that workshop, I have started a daily breath practice that I do first thing in the morning before meditation. It is also a part of my warm up for my personal practice.  By incorporating this way of breathing into my practice, I have found that my core strength has improved and I am aware of more muscles being recruited into each movement.

Try it out for yourself:

Deep Breathwork Variation Supine:

  1. Prepare the body
    • Lay down on your mat in savasana (Corpse Posture) (Note: this can be done in bed)
    • Wiggle your fingers, toes, arms and legs to get comfortable and feel your body against the mat.
    • Lengthen your tailbone towards your feet so that your lower back is not compressed and closer to the mat
    • Slide your arms about 40cm away from your body and turn the palms up (arms will be at a 45degree angle to the body)
    • Take 3 deep breaths and sigh them out.
  2. Start the “deep breath”
    • Inhale through the nose into your belly, pull the breath into the rib cage, expanding the breath into the side ribs, all the way up to the top of the collar bones
    • Pause (if you are pregnant – do not pause)
    • Exhale through the nose, from the chest down to the belly
    • Pull the belly down towards the spine as you empty the breath
      1. Option: As this becomes more comfortable, introduce the contraction of the pelvic floor up on exhale.
      2. How: As you exhale, draw the belly towards to spine and at the same pull the pelvic floor up towards the heart. In men, this is the perineum, in women, it is the head of the cervix.
    • Relax the belly and the pelvic floor and start the inhale again

Do this cycle of breathing for 10-20 repetitions.

Deep Breathwork Variation Seated:

  1. Prepare the body
    • Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. Elevate the hips higher than the knees by sitting on a cushion. Your knees should be moving towards the ground. I find it helpful to have a blanket to support my legs, under the thighs.
    • Close your eyes, lean forward and back a few times to find a vertical spine with the ears inline with the shoulders and shoulders inline with the hips. It may help to sit against a wall if this is uncomfortable. I find that if I have been sick, I am a little weak and need the support.
    • Place your hands on the thighs with the palms facing down. Relax the shoulders down.
    • Take 3 deep breaths and sigh them out.
  2. Start the “deep breath”
    • Inhale through the nose into your belly, pull the breath into the rib cage, expanding the breath into the side ribs, all the way up to the top of the collar bones
    • Pause (if you are pregnant – do not pause)
    • Exhale through the nose, from the chest down to the belly
    • Pull the belly down towards the spine as you empty the breath
      1. Option: As this becomes more comfortable, introduce the contraction of the pelvic floor up on exhale.
      2. How: As you exhale, draw the belly towards to spine and at the same pull the pelvic floor up towards the heart. In men, this is the perineum, in women, it is the head of the cervix.
    • Relax the belly and the pelvic floor and start the inhale again

Do this cycle of breathing for 10-20 repetitions.

Try it and drop me a note letting me know how it feels for you.

Til next time –

Jenn

 

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