Inquiry: Honoring the body through breath

Make sure you have five to ten minutes to yourself in a quiet place. You can do this outdoors, sitting on your couch, lying on the yoga mat with knees bent and feet on the floor (partial recline), anywhere you are comfortable.

Settle in quietly and begin to notice your breathing. Softly close your eyes and breathe in and out through your nose. Begin to feel the rhythm of your in breath and out breath. Allow brief pauses between your breaths. Inhale, gently pause for a moment at the top without holding the breath, then exhale and pause for a moment before you take your next in breath. Take your time. Make your belly soft. Deep breathing can only occur when the diaphragm isn’t restricted. Make the belly soft to experience a full, yogic breath.

Place your hands on your lower belly, below your belly button and above your pubic bone. As you inhale, feel your abdomen gently and softly rise into your hands. As you exhale, gently pull your navel back toward your spine to completely exhale and notice that your belly recedes below your hands. Invite the breath in, along your spine, and down into your lower belly. Let the movement of your belly and your breath be soft, easy, and effortless – not forcing the breath, just allowing it in.

Slowly and quietly experience the sensation of your breathing. Notice: what does it feel like in your body? Make the breath smooth and easy. With a gentle approach, begin to slow down and lengthen your exhalation. Let your shoulders relax away from your ears as you exhale, allowing your body to relax a little more deeply as you release your breath.

Relax and enjoy this feeling for 5-10 minutes. You can place your hands over your heart center and bring in a feeling of gratitude for your body and your breath, for the time you took to stay present in this moment. Know that the rhythm of your breath has been happening every single day, 24 hours a day, every day and every night since the day you were born.

Listen to an audio file of this breathing exercise

Here’s a free audio file of this yogic breathing inquiry so you can practice at home!