A 5 minute Yoga practice for stress and focus that you can do literally anywhere – even lying in bed!
It’s (US) National Breastfeeding Month, y’all! This month, La Leche League (LLL) Durham, NC is joining with Breastfeeding Family Friendly Communities and Breastfeed Durham to move its annual Live, Love, Latch!® celebration online with a virtual Show and Tell event! By submitting a photo and written description of something from your breastfeeding journey, you will be entered in a weekly drawing to win some great prizes. For more information and to submit your photo, please click here
Why am I telling you about this? Well, besides the fact that it is a fun celebration hosted by great organizations (which, full disclosure, happen to be led in part by my mom and sister-in-law), These Wandering Roots has also donated a few of the prizes!
Tomorrow, Wednesday 5 August, the drawing will be for a private (virtual) yoga class with yours truly. I am very excited to offer this class and look forward to meeting the winner. In honor of this offer, this week’s blog post features a quick yoga practice that can literally be done by anyone, anywhere.
One of the things that I always focus on in my yoga classes is that yoga is more than just a sequence of movements, or poses for stretching. The poses, known as asanas, are actually just one “limb” of the 8 limbs of the classical yoga practice. In addition to asanas, my classes include pranayama, or breathing exercises, and dhyana, or meditation.
The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj”, which can be translated as “yoke” or “union.” We use the breath to yoke the body and mind together in union. When the body and mind are working together, we are able to live mindfully, in the moment, and work towards contentment.
And that’s why I am here today to offer a very quick pranayama practice. This is known in Sanskrit as “Samavrtti,” which literally translates as “Equal Action”, but is usually known in English as “Box Breath” or “4-part Breath”. This is a great exercise for bringing a wandering or an anxious mind back to the present moment.
Begin by finding a comfortable position. This traditionally looks like sitting cross legged on a mat or cushion, but you may also practice Samavrtti while sitting on a chair, standing in the shower, or lying in bed. Wherever you are, close your eyes, and bring your awareness to your breath. There’s no need to change or alter it in any way; for now, just trace the path of the air through your nose, into your lungs, and out again.
As you follow your breath in and out, check in with the rest of your body. How are you feeling today? Is there any tension in your body? Is your mind still, or are your thoughts racing? Try to meet yourself without judgement, simply observe.
Bring your awareness back to your breath. You may keep your eyes closed, or open them slowly and gently, allowing your gaze to settle somewhere in the middle distance. Imagine there is a square in front of you. Starting in the lower left hand corner, allow your breath to travel along that square. As you breathe in through your nose, travel up the left side of the square for four counts. Then hold your breath for four counts as your inner gaze follows along the top of the square to the upper righthand corner. Breathe out through your nose for four counts as you travel down the right side. Finally, hold your breath for four counts along the bottom of the square, as the path leads you back to the beginning.
Repeat your journey around the square for as many times as you would like, though I would recommend at least 5. See if you can begin to slow the counts with each subsequent breath as you begin to relax into the exercise.
When you are content, close your eyes again, if they are not already closed. Allow your breath to continue on its own and check back in with your body. Again, without any judgement, observe any changes in mood, or if any tension has been released. Thank yourself for showing up today and slowly blink your eyes open.
The light within me sees and honors the light within you.