Breathing is automatic, it’s autonomic, but how often do we check in on how we’re breathing? The breath works as a way to tell our brain if we’re safe, or if we’re in harm’s way. The way you’re breathing right now, might be signalling to your brain that you’re not currently safe: stressed out from work, running from the neighborhood dog, worried about that next doctor’s appointment. So in turn, your brain (like your parent watching over you) goes “well, it’s really not a great time to have a baby.”
How can you turn this around? Mindfulness breathing practices! Below are 3 of our favorite ways to bring focus back to your breath and tell your brain that, actually, now IS a great time to have a kid! You don’t need anything fancy for a breathing practice, just sit comfortably (you can use a meditation cushion) and close your eyes if that feels safe to you.
The name may sound fancy, but really it’s just a simple inhale and exhale of an equal length. Start by counting the length of your inhale and then try to match your exhale to that length. No this doesn’t need to be timed on a watch, it doesn’t need to be absolutely perfect, this practice is more about bringing awareness to the breath. Sit for at least 10 rounds of breath, or set a timer for 3 to 5 minutes.
Again, this is just a fancy name for something we do naturally. Dirga breath/breathing is the same as diaphragmatic breathing. For this breathing practice it helps to have something to help you feel the breath expansion. If you’re seated, place your hands on your abdomen. If lying down feel free to place your hands, a pillow, or any other object with a little mass and height on your abdomen to help you see the breath expansion. From a comfortable position focus on breathing in and down into the belly. As you exhale, feel the belly contract slightly. Keep the breath easy and smooth, and try not to overthink the expansion.
Also known as “alternate nostril breathing,” this breath can feel complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, it can become an excellent way to still the mind. Follow along with this video until you get it down. Practice it whenever you’re looking for a little extra balance in your life.
Breathing is essential. When we take a few minutes out of our day to focus on how we’re breathing and the quality of our breath, we can bring ourselves into a calmer, safer space. If you want to learn more practices, check out The Paths.