How often to do pay attention to your breath?
You probably notice it when you feel out of breath, or you've got a good scare and suddenly you take in a big rush of air. Perhaps when you get caught in those contagious yawns! All of the sudden our breath becomes extremely apparent and we can be almost hyper aware of it. But, most of the time, we just breathe (or not) without really paying any attention to it at all. Yay for the automatic functions of our bodies!
image courtesy of yogabliss.me
A big part of yoga, arguably more important than all the poses and postures we often see, is Pranayama.
Prana = life force, energy, or the breath sustaining the body. On a deeper level, it's the energy that moves and sustains the universe, or dare we say, it IS the universe.
Ayama = to extend or draw out.
Pranayama = control / extension of the breath.
It's the third limb of the yoga tree, represented by the leaves below, which makes a ton of sense really, since plants breathe through their leaves.
image courtesy of benoityoga.com
We probably know that our breath changes based on all kinds of conditions. Sometimes it's shorter, deeper, more labored, shallow. We even hold it without realizing it! All kinds of conditions can affect our breath: our environment or change to it (shock of cold air anyone?), our mood, the people we're with, whether we're walking through a haunted house at Halloween or hanging at the beach sipping an umbrella drink. These changes and fluctuations of our breath tend to follow the changes and fluctuations of our minds, our thoughts, our reactions.
Pranayama is a practice to channel the breath or internal stores of energy. If we even out, or control, the breath, we can then even out, or control, the mind (thoughts, emotions, reactions). When we feel nervous, we can intentionally deepen the breath and send messages to our nervous system that we'll be ok. When we get overwhelmed by anger, we can tune in to our breath and slow down to respond rather than react.
Whether you're already practicing yoga or not, you can easily start to practice pranayama. It's actually probably better to start it apart from a yoga class or home yoga practice. When you're focused on the movement of the body and getting into postures, your attention is definitely NOT on the breath!
Taking 10-15 minutes to start a pranayama practice helps you to focus on the breath, the inner self, and experience fully stillness and steadiness in both mind and body. I think you'll find that once you take time to practice pranayama on it's own, you might have a spontaneous awareness of it during a yoga class, or you might be able to start intentionally adding it into a home yoga practice.
image courtesy of fitstylelife.com
Here's how to get started:
Bring in some essential oils!
So many essential oils can be really useful for a pranayama practice, not mention your overall physical, mental and emotional health. Here are a few to try:
How to use your oils for Pranayama:
Whether you're teaching a pranayama class or practicing on your own, there are some easy ways to start to use essential oils to strengthen your experience.
Want to add some essential oils to your pranayama practice? Check out the great resources I have to help you! You can learn more about doTERRA oils, how to use them, and even find some great suggestions for a custom yoga starter kit.
Tried some pranayama yourself? Let us know how it went, what you noticed, and which oil you used if you tried one!
I'm Tonia, a Midwesterner transplanted to Colorado. I'm a mom of two lovely littles, a yoga instructor, DIY-er, teacher, stay at home mom, and a doTERRA Wellness Advocate. I blog about a little bit of all of these and everything in between!
Are you looking for natural health options, but don't know where to start? Book a 1-on-1 appointment with me! We'll spend about 30 minutes getting to know your health goals and concerns, learn a bit about doTERRA, and go over the most commonly used oils that meet your needs. You don't have to buy anything, but if you see something you like, of course I can help you!