Monday, August 6, 2012

Ocean Breath

I love the ocean.  The vast expanse, the rhythmic rise and fall of its waves, and the inevitable sense of calm it instills in me.  I am eagerly anticipating our next visit to the ocean in a few days. But most of the time, I'm not at the ocean.  Luckily, there is another way to reach out and grab a piece of that calm and stillness;  Ujjyai pranayama, or Ocean breath.

While often called upon during Yoga asanas, or poses, to cool the body and focus the mind, Ocean Breath can be used during meditation as well.  It's a great tool to create the stillness and focused attention that meditation requires.   I encourage you to try it out.  Here's how:

1. Find a comfortable seat.  Maybe it's a chair, or cushion on the floor.  Find what feels good to you.

2. Inhale deeply and exhale completely.  Feel your chest and belly expand and rise with the inhale and condense and fall with the exhale.  Do this until you begin to feel your body relax.

3. On your next inhale, softly constrict the back of your throat.  These are the glottis muscles, the same muscles that work when you have a quick intake of breath. Breath deep and slow.  You will hear the air flowing into your lungs, and understand where this breath got its name.

4. Exhale slowly.  Keep that same slight constriction at the back of the throat.  Try to make your exhale as long as your inhale.  Repeat for at least 10-15 breaths.

Meditation can be intimidating.  But this simple little breathing exercise isn't.  Try it out; you'll feel the vast expanse, the rhythm of life, and the stillness that helps us appreciate it. 

Breathing in…….and out,

Kristin Henningsen, M.S., C.H., R.Y.T.


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