The human body is amazing. It functions on autopilot. We don’t need to think about when to blink, beat, or breathe. These functions, with many others that often fly under the radar, are part of the autonomic nervous system. This means that conscious thought is not needed to fulfill the body’s actions.
Our job in caring for our body is to listen and facilitate smooth functioning. This requires awareness. Embodiment practices, like meditation and breathwork influence our physical and mental health. Practicing mindful embodiment opens the gateway to a greater intuitive connection which gifts us clarity in fulfilling our dreams.
Conscious Breathing, called pranayama in Ayurvedic practices, is one way to bring focus to the present moment, tune into our bodies, and bring peace to our minds. Prana is a Sanskrit word translating to life force. Our breath is life. It is always with us. Even our natural exhale leaves a reserve of air in our bodies, which can be felt with a slow, deep and sustained exhale.
Breath corresponds to the air element. Moving, changing, cooling, dry, rough, sharp, & clear. When in balance, air can soothe us much like gentle waves crashing into the soft shore, or a relieving breeze on a hot summer day. Aggravation can cause restlessness, overwhelm, and irritability, like the wind swirling through a pile of leaves or pushing against the branches of a mighty tree. Air moves out of balance quite easily. Pranayama is one way to check in and restore that balance. When we bring awareness and control to our prana flow, we bring awareness and control to our whole being.
Breathwork can be done anywhere, anytime, for any reason, and by anyone.
These exercises are a few examples of how your conscious breathwork practice can look.
Inhale slowly, for a count of 4 or so. Pause, feeling your breath in your body. 1. . . 2. . . 3. . . 4. Exhale slowly, controlling your breath for a count of 8. Take a natural breath, and repeat. As you practice this exercise, you may enjoy changing the counts of your breaths, or feel inspired to let the practice become intuitive, letting go of counting altogether.
Inhale a nice, steady, slow breath through your nose, feeling the air swirl around within you. Let it fill your belly. Exhale through your mouth, adjusting your throat to produce a soothing "haaaaaaaaaa" sound to resemble a gentle wave.
Alternative Nostril Breathing
This can be performed using your fingers as a tool to block one nostril, either holding your palm open and blocking one nostril with your thumb pressed to the side of your nose, or by folding your index and middle fingers down onto your palm and alternating your thumb and ring fingers againt your nostrils. The second option grants you opportunity to block each nostril without switching hands. Alternatively, you can practice this exercise with your hands resting away from your face and gain skill in directing your prana only with your consciousness.
Bring your breath in through your right nostril. Again, do this with intention for maximum benefit. Feel the air as it enters your body. Pause. Exhale through the leftnostril, feeling the air exit your body. Pause. Bring your next in through the same nostril you exhaled from, and exhale this breath through your other nostril. Bring in a natural breath, paying attention to how your body and mind feel.
Take a moment for stillness. Create a quiet bubble around you so that you can tune into this very moment. Where do you feel tension? Bring a deep inhale in, imagining the prana moving to that area of your body, swirling around and helping to move any stagnant, stuck energy from that region. Let your breath carry that tension out of your body, with gratitude.
This can be practiced progressionally up and down your body, with visualization of colors, aromatherapy, or however your intuition guides you.
If your general atomosphere is feeling negative or tense, this intentional exercise of selflessness is a tool you need. We have already explored a variety of inward directed prana. This is a tool we use in reverse - directing our intentional breath outward. I love this exercise, and I think you will too.
If you feel that your personal energy is in a good space for this:
Inhale the stagnant energies, the tension, the pain, the sadness, and all of the other heavy things you might sense around you. Let your breath serve as a vehicle to bring this inward but not to keep as your own. See and Feel what you carry inward, and know that it is not yours to hold. When you have witnessed all that needed to be seen, exhale it all with positive intentions for yourself and the world around you.
Pranayama for Postpartum
The season of newbornhood is face paced and ever-changing. Your breath and your body are always with you. Bringing awareness to your life force, your Prana, and the earthly body you inhabit is medicine that can be indulged in any where and any time.
Conscious breath can be used in times you have silence, and in times you need silence. It can be done subtley, which means you can also use it during women's circles, while you shop, and at family gatherings. You can practice pranayama to coregulate with your baby, who is perhaps releasing a lot of emotions, or as a tool to help you both sleep after a long day.
Grounding yourself with prana helps mainstain your strength in upholding important boundaries - something we all need in the energetically permeable weeks after birth. Pranayama can also help center you in times of emotional ache, during experiences with anxiety or as you heal, process, and transform through your birth story.
"I am present. I am safe. I am supported."
Breathe consciously, feeling your breath swirling throughout your body, cleansing & charging your tissues. Rest your mind & let your intuition take the lead.
Ahhhh. . .
Interested in more practices to root you in postpartum joy? You might like:
Ayurvedic Postpartum Consultations
Together we will explore your vision for the sacred, transitional weeks following birth and the foundations of Ayurvedic Postpartum Care so that your sacred window can bring you the deepest holistic healing.
Plus, be sure to join our newsletter so you can always be up to date on free community calls and other special offerings from our hearts to yours.
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian medical practice, focusing on holistic balance and our relationship as a microcosm of the macrocosm.
What we see in nature, We also see in ourselves,
For nature and us are one.