Breath is the most important element of a yoga practice. It allows us to move deeper into a pose, get through a difficult one, and move gracefully from one pose to another. Our breath can have this same guiding and transformative power in our daily lives. When was the last time that you remembered or observed your breath? Have you ever observed how your breath changes when you are angry, sad, in pain, or confronted with a challenge? What does your breath feel and sound like when you are relaxed, comfortable, or joyful? Our breath allows us to live, and yet it is something we so often forget about.
Though our inhales and exhales will continue automatically whether we tell them to or not, observing our breath and breathing consciously can have a profound effect on our state of mind and daily experiences. When we remember to breathe, we can breathe deeper and easier which will help relax our body and mind.
Try paying attention to your breath, and observe the difference that awareness creates. This week, whether while you practice a pose or while you face a difficult moment in your pregnancy, try to remember to observe your breath. What does it feel like? What happens to your body and mind when you take a few deep breaths? Is there a difference? What changed, if anything?
The practice of conscious breathing is especially important when facing the challenges of pregnancy and birth and can be applied to any situation. I hope you will notice a positive effect when taking deep breaths in the face of a pregnancy challenge or discomfort. Even when you are feeling just fine, deep breathing can help reaffirm those joyful moments and make them even more pleasurable.
You can also try thinking about your breath in relationship to your growing baby. With the expansion and contraction of your belly with each breath, can you imagine your breath giving space and life to your growing baby? Can you imagine your breath wrapping your baby like a warm blanket, nurturing it and loving it? If you are further along in your pregnancy, how does your baby move when you are deeply breathing?
There are several types of yoga breathing to use in your practice:
- Ujjayi Pranayama (Ocean Sounding or Victorious Breath)
- Dirgha Pranayama (or three part breath)
- Nadi Shodhana (Channel Purifying Breath)
Not only will focusing on your breath help you connect with your baby and face the challenges of gestation, but it will give you the necessary practice to help you face delivery with the same sense of calm. Using breathing techniques during birth can help you through pain and contractions, as well as provide you and your baby with more oxygen. Anyone and everyone can learn to breathe more fully, but it takes practice. Fortunately the more you practice, the more effortless it will become.
There are several different types of yoga breathing practices