Friday, May 22, 2009

Restorative Yoga Breathing

2 to 1 Breath

There is a type of breathing I especially like for Restorative class. It is called 2 to 1 Breathing. This means that you will extend your exhale to take twice as long as your inhale takes.

To start out, close your eyes and settle into your body. Bring your attention to your breath. Notice the belly bellowing out on the inhale and drawing back into the body on the exhale. You are not making this happen, it is happening naturally. Sit here for about 5-10 breaths, settling in to the body and quieting the mind.

Now start to notice how many counts it takes you to inhale and how many counts it takes you to exhale. In normal breathing the counts should be about equal. For me it is about 2-3 counts for both inhale and exhale. Notice this breathing pattern for about 5-10 breaths.

Next, start to nudge your exhale to take longer than your inhale. You are now controlling your exhale, drawing it out, extending it to 2 times the length of your inhale. So, if your inhale takes 2 counts, your exhale should now be 4 counts, or if your inhale was 3 counts, your exhale should be 6 counts. Practice this 2 to 1 Breath for 5-10 counts. If you start to feel panicky let go of the 2 to 1 Breathing and go back to regular, even breathing. If you like this breath continue for the full 5-10 rounds.

When you have competed 5-10 rounds of 2 to 1 Breathing let go of the control of the exhale and return to even, steady breathing, equal counts on the inhale and the exhale. Let your attention come back to the body and then back to the outside world. Continue on with your day.

2 to 1 Breathing is calming, helps relieve stress and soothes the body. Use this breath anytime before or after practice, at work, at home, or any time you are feeling stressed out and just need a quick "breather."