WELLNESS WITH BREATH AWARENESS

Summer 2016 I was in the middle of a two-year yoga teacher training course. Part of our homework at the time was to implement a ten-minute daily routine of breath awareness. Below I share the breath awareness I enjoy every day. To me, it is about becoming aware of the breath as a steady rhythm within that grounds me in the present moment. It is also about (re-) creating a healthy link between the breath and the nervous system, so that the breath can guide the nervous system into rest and relax mode whenever needed.

One thing I have learned is that practice truly makes progress. As I was at the start of my daily breathing routine I wondered “When will I have time to just be with my breathing?” It is very common to think that way. I can understand some people view setting time aside for breath awareness as pointless! However, once you get into the practice and notice the after-effects you know it isn’t.

Summer was a great time of the year to get going. I was away on holiday in the South of France, my children weren’t with me, and every afternoon I would lie on the beach for an hour’s time in the sun. The efficient me was thinking that I could get two things done in one go. Not exactly zen but you have got to start somewhere.

As my daily breathing practice I chose the yoga three part breathing. This implies breathing into belly, continuing into ribs and finally filling chest with the breath. As you breathe out you breathe out from chest, then ribs and then belly. You sort of fill your whole torso with your breathing before allowing the breath to flow out. There is something called four-part breathing where you breathe into your upper back as a final step. That felt too challenging for me at the time so I decided to breathe into chest and upper back simultaneously. During teacher training a fellow student would sit next to me, place her hands on my front and back body at the same time (around belly, ribs and finally chest), so that I could send the breath into the space between her hands. It was an amazing experience. How safe it felt to give all my awareness to the breathing and being held at the same time!

So there I was, every afternoon on the beach, taking in the sun and practising three-part breathing. It was tricky at the start. I struggled to make the breath go where I wanted. I remembered how I had practised with my fellow student and decided to place one hand on my belly and one hand on the chest to help guide the breathing. It got much easier:  My hands would sort of tell the breath where to go.

Four years later and this is a breath I come back to again and again several times a day. Now I don’t even plan to breathe this way, it just happens on it’s own! It felt pretty incredible when I realised this this past summer. Waking up in the morning and my breath goes to three part breathing. Going to bed at night and here we go again. It is as if my breath knows exactly when I need that extra help to create relaxation through the body. Every day now I get this caring and soothing treatment which I am so grateful for.

Why is breath awareness powerful? Because it is pure wellness for you. It brings goodness to your whole body. It opens for clarity in the mind with the breath being your single point of focus. It also provides a sense of calmness within that I would not be without.

Right now I am in a cafe and this is how I am breathing. I just love it. Try it too? You could find a breath awareness practice you enjoy and spend a few minutes per day being with your breathing. It could be any type of yoga breathing. The only thing required by you is to start. No need to beat yourself up if it doesn’t happen every single day. Trust the breath will come along little by little and provide a lot of wellness to all the cells in your body and make you feel great.

With practice, notice how your breath becomes a presence in your life you would not miss out on. Wishing you well and enjoy breathing! X

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Annette Wiik

My name is Annette. I am a Yoga Academy Certified Teacher (BWY-Accredited School) and started practising Hatha Yoga over 20 years ago. Holding a certificate from Bangor University to teach mindfulness-based courses, I incorporate my knowledge of mindfulness meditation in all my yoga classes. I have two grown-up children and live in Wimbledon.