By facing our fears and removing obstacles, we create a clearer path. One of the things that helps me through each day is my meditation practice. Each day I open my heart and meditate, listening for the wisdom of God and Ganesh. Pranayama or breath also has seen me through many situations. It feels so comforting to be physically relaxing my nervous system with the action of breath and the conscious movement of bringing life into my being. Ujjai breath is such a calming and comforting sound and yet it is audible and loud.
Ujjai breathing is when you breathe in through your nose and out of your nose. While breathing into your nose try starting at a count of 4 beats and then exhale to 6 beats. Your exhales should always be a bit longer than your inhales. As you breathe out, close your lips to feel and hear a whisper sound in the back of your throat. It sounds like “old man breath” and that’s perfectly normal. If your counts are longer than 4 or 6 beats, that’s wonderful – keep going as long as you’re able! Exhaling will bring your inhale, so keep breathing.
On a recent trip home from Austin Texas I found myself sitting next to a nervous flyer. As someone who is relatively confident with travel and flying, I wanted to be able to help guide him. His energy was making not only the people around us anxious, but also myself. I decided to teach him the art of ujjai breath while we were taking off and explained that not only is he calming the nervous system but also relaxing himself with the sound of breath. I began to breathe with him as it always helps to hear the breath of another while doing ujjai breathing. It was very calming to breathe together and he began to physically relax as our journey began into the night sky. It was such a gift to see him become calm and experience a flight in a new way, without fear. Our breath and life encourages others, so share your gifts whenever and however you’re able.
My mother has also used ujjai breathing while not in a yoga studio. She had a minor surgery removing a little lump on the top of her head a while back and as she was awaiting her anesthesia, she began her ujjai breathing. She mentioned to me later that a part of her felt silly and another part of her felt calm and no longer anxious about the operation ahead. Being less anxious won out and she continued her breath.
The man I sat next to on the plane asked a very profound question: But what should one think about while breathing? You should think about whatever it is that makes you feel most comfortable: God, Ganesh, the universe, counting numbers, counting sheep, the beautiful light from within your third eye, the person next to you, flowers, stars – whatever makes you feel best when breathing outside of the yoga studio, breathe that in.
While you’re in the studio, you are likely to be breathing into your poses. Movement with breath is one of the key definitions of yoga. If we don’t breathe with our poses, we are just exercising and not doing yoga. I always tell my students to breathe in love and breathe out light. If they can’t breathe out light and they’re having a bad day, I tell them to let go of anything that is no longer serving them. By letting go of fear, and opening your heart and lungs to love you will grow to be more loving and less fearful.
In your fearlessness, you will be able to accomplish anything. That’s the magic of life. You need to find the perfect balance. A touch of fear to keep you neutral, a bucket full of glitter and light, a calming breath and a beautiful vision. You will get there when you’re ready. Just remember, wherever you are right now is where you’re supposed to be. It may not be perfect but it is a part of your journey. You need to feel everything to be in balance and continue to grow.
Explore your breath, dig into your dream and begin to let go of fear.
Get out there – do yoga & make life sparkle!