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Air

 

Air is newness, inspiration, possibility, the intellect, the power of the mind, and the imagination. Air is the raging wind, the touch of a soft breeze on your face, fresh ideas, and new knowledge. Air transports your dreams and wishes. It is the vital spirit which passes through all things and gives the kiss of life, moving within and around and through and filling everything. Air is invisible yet ever-present, it communicates and exchanges with us through every breath we take.

You are a being whose every breath connects and exchanges with the natural environment. You are in constant communication and communion through the involuntary act of exchanging breath with the living world around you; a being who is essentially, intrinsically connected with all of nature. This cannot be forgotten in the heart, in the soul, or when we actively connect with and observe our breath. 

Almost every aspect of our modern lives seem to have been designed to foster a sense of disconnection from the power of full, conscious breath, and consequently our breathing is often shallow, unfulfilling, and incomplete. 

Watching the natural breath

 

A meditation on the ebb and flow and the exchange of energy between inside and outside the body.

 

Observe.

 

In this exercise do not try to change or manipulate the breath but instead try to drop into a space of observation. See the natural ebb and flow of the breath as it enters, moves, expands, and then exits the body. Notice the way the breath feels in each of these aspects as it travels through the natural cycles of movement.

Find a comfortable seat with the back straight, the chest open, the shoulders back and broadened.

Drop the chin slightly to the chest but leave space so the back, sides, and front of the neck are straight and long.

Imagine the top of the head is lifting as if weightless and expanding upwards. 

Watch the breath. 

 

Life is impossible without breath. It is the most fundamental foundation of life. Deep, engaged and effective breathing of clean, fresh air is a crucial source of nourishment for the whole being. A human can survive only minutes without air, we exchange the breath in our bodies constantly, which means the quality of our breath can greatly impact health and wellbeing. 

 

Breathing is involuntary and essential, we do it without thinking, but it is when we play with the breath, engage with it, appreciate it, explore it and the ways we can consciously manipulate it then we can feel the vibrancy of its power to enrich our experience of life. 

 

Connecting to the breath is connecting to the element of air, as it moves into and through and leaves our bodies.

 

Three Stage Yogic (Diaphragmatic) Breathing

 

Watch a baby breathing and you will see the movement of the diaphragm, the deep full breath which nourishes and enlivens. Babies instinctively breathe in this way, right down into the belly to stimulate the diaphragm and nourish the whole being with breath. Breathing in this sense is about the conscious inhabiting of the body as an exchanging thing with the world, not as a detached and disconnected entity.

 

The diaphragm is the horizontal muscle between the thoracic and abdominal cavity. Diaphragmatic breathing allows air to fully enter the lungs when the chest rises and the belly expands. This is our natural way of breathing, but stress, poor posture, extended sitting and learned habits of shallow breathing can disconnect us from the profound benefits offered by simply breathing in the way nature intended. 

 

Diaphragmatic breathing can increase lung capacity, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, strengthen the pelvic floor, improve sleep, aid in detoxification by stimulating peristalsis and the lymphatic system, and improve posture.

 

Breathing fully, closing the mouth and breathing only through the nose.

 

Lie on your back, taking a few moments to relax and bring your awareness to your breath. 

 

Bring your hands to your abdomen. Inhale and draw the breath deep down into the belly, feeling it expand with your inhale and contract with your exhale. 

 

Now bring the hands up to the ribcage. 

 

Inhale, filling first the belly, then the ribcage with breath, again feeling the expansion as you inhale and the contraction as you exhale.

 

Now bring the hands up to the collarbones. 

 

Inhale, breathing down into the belly, then into the ribcage, and then up into the top of the chest, feeling the collarbones lift as you inhale and sink back down as you exhale. 

 

This is a full yogic diaphragmatic breath, it fills you with life giving, life affirming breath, and utilises the entire capacity of the lungs. 

 

 

Pranayama 

Prana is lifeforce energy, it permeates all things at all levels of reality. Pranayama (or yogic breathing practice) is one of the eight limbs of Yoga and the practices are intended to increase this energy, bringing more life force to the whole being.

The breath is the tether between the body and the environment, a constant interplay of life, a repeated interaction and exchange of energy and information. As a yoga teacher I understand the power of the breath, a short yogic practice with correct breathing is far more beneficial than a long practice disconnected and disembodied. The breath brings us into present moment awareness and grounds and connects to all that is in the now.

 

Nadi Shodhana - Alternate Nostril Breathing

 

This practice is one of clearing and purification of the subtle energy channels of the body and balancing the masculine and feminine aspects of the self. Nadi Shodhana is revitalising, calming, and soothing to the central nervous system. It can help improve sleep and can also regulate body temperature, amongst numerous other benefits. 

 

 

 

Journaling exercise

How does the breath affect the mind, how does the breath affect the body? What do you feel when you consciously engage with the breath and the element of air? 

What aspects of air and breath are you grateful for? How can gratitude for the breath inform your practice of connection and embodiment? 

What ways will you connect with the element of air? What will you assimilate into your daily practice of connection, gratitude and reverence for life?

Write in your journal the experience of these observations.

AIR-ONERewilding the Self
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AIR-TWORewilding the Self
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AIR-THREERewilding the Self
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