When is the last time you were aware – keenly aware – of your breath? When is the last time you felt your belly rise and fall naturally, taking in the air around you? When is the last time you noticed your nostrils tingle as air escapes the body?
If you are like most of us, the answer to those questions is either “I can’t even remember” or “at my last yoga class when the teacher tortured me with 5 minutes of breath work (aka pranayama)”.
At the most basic and primitive level, our lives are sustained by the ability to inhale and exhale. We can run, think, speak, and love all because we take in oxygen and allow it to permeate our cells. Think about that. We are sustained by a complex, integral, transformative process that we never take the time to notice. We pay respect to our asanas (poses) and chittum (thoughts) but neglect to honor the breath that makes those actions possible.
Take a moment every day to know your breath as you know your body.
The moment you wake, lay on your back with your knees wide and the soles of your feet together in supta bada konasana. Place your right hand on your heart and left hand on your belly. As you inhale, feel your belly rise first. Then your ribs inflate. Then your collar bones lift and as you exhale allow your collar bones to fall. Your ribs to contract. Your belly to soften. Repeat this 3-part breath for 5-10 minutes.
Notice the fluid and gentles waves of breath as they wash over the body. And, just for those precious few moments, allow yourself to be where you are and as you are.