There are so many yoga blogs about new year’s intentions that I am not going to add to those this year, but would like to talk about how yoga can help us to provide a space to become more aware of ourselves, of our habits and habitual responses and behaviours. It is often only when we stop and pause that we can even notice what it is that might be beneficial for us to change or identify goals to work towards.
In yoga the key way that we do that is to encourage focus on the breath. This is what makes yoga more than just exercise and is one of the first things we learn.
One key practice to help focus in yoga is called “sama vritti”. This means even or regulated breathing and is one of the most helpful practices to help ground ourselves in the present moment and to cultivate a sense of steadiness and ease in the postures.
This practice is helpful for beginners but is also a great practice to come back to re-connect with the breath and to apply to more challenging postures as well.
• Begin with your natural breath, noticing where you can feel it most in your body. You can begin to ask yourself questions “What is the texture of my breath?” “Does the inhale or exhale feel easier?” Try not to judge but just notice whatever is happening.
• Make sure you are breathing in and out through your nose. Slow your breath down without forcing anything until you find an even rhythm. Count how long your inhale is and then make your exhale the same length.
• Start to notice the journey of the breath – how it starts, travels and how each breath passes.
• You can then start to notice the slight pauses at the end of each inhale and exhale, where the breath “turns”.
The next stage in a breathing practice in yoga is to emphasise these pauses but in sama vritti it is good to just notice them, they are also a way of anchoring your mind to the present moment.
You can gradually start to lengthen your breath as you become more experienced in your yoga practice. You can also notice how different postures cause the breath to fluctuate and come back to sama vritti in each asana.
Happy new year and happy practicing!
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