The Breath Cycle
Sit or stand comfortably, and make a dome with your hand near the bottom of the ribs. This hand represents your respiratory diaphragm. With your other hand, make a dome in front of your pelvis representing the pelvic floor.
As you inhale, the diaphragm contracts and draws down. Pressure in the abdomen increases, and the abdomen and pelvic floor expand a bit to make room. Both of your hands move downward as you inhale. At the same time, the pressure in the lungs decreases, and air flows in.
As you exhale, the diaphragm relaxes and moves back up. Pressure in abdomen decreases, and the abdomen and pelvic floor move up as well. Both of your hands move upward as you exhale. At the same time, pressure in lungs increases, and air flows out.
Relax through your shoulders and neck, and take the breath slow and low. Focus around the bottom of the ribcage, 360 degrees. As you inhale, energetically root into the ground (diaphragm and pelvic floor move down). As you exhale, gently draw the energy up (diaphragm and pelvic floor move up). Yes, we often move our arms overhead when we inhale and the energy of the arms moves up, but think of the energy of the breath providing balance by rooting down. At first there will be a lot of thinking, but then move toward what you feel. Find an ease of breath. The breath is our center. It is both automatic and under conscious control. It can lead us to relaxation or increased energy, stillness or strong movement, and it can let us know how we're doing at any given moment.
The Breath as an Assessment Tool
Awareness of our breathing helps us to be more present, anchored mentally and emotionally as well as physically. If the practice becomes too intense, the breath will be the first to let us know.
Things to watch for:
These are signs to back off, shift, find something that works better for YOU.