Welcome to Day 1 of my “100 Days of Yoga” project.

When we become familiar with a practice of any kind, it’s easy to become oblivious to the routine of it. For instance, once we learn to drive, we don’t consciously have to think about pressing the gas pedal to go or the brake to stop. We just get in, turn the key and GO! Driving, like other things, becomes an unconscious habit.

And so it is with the way we breathe.

The breath is so automatic, if we aren’t aware we can slip into poor habits. During times of stress we instinctively begin to take short and shallow breaths. If our posture isn’t great, we compress into the torso and there’s not as much room there for the lungs to expand and receive a deep breath. Over time, the way we breathe can become an unconscious habit.

Today, on the first day of my 100 Days of Yoga project,
let us draw our awareness to the breath.

In order to change unconscious habits, we must first become aware of them. Changing the way we breathe – slowing and deepening the inhale, lengthening and completing the exhale – can significantly change the way we feel and how we approach life.

Follow these simple steps to first become the observer of your breath:

  1. Sit or lay in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
  2. Notice when you breathe in. You might even think, “Here I am, breathing in…”
  3. Notice when you breathe out. “Here I am, breathing out…”
  4. Then, notice the pause between the inhale and exhale. “Here’s the pause when the inhale ends, just before the exhale begins… Here’s the pause when the exhale ends and the inhale begins…”
  5. Follow that pattern – inhale, notice the pause, exhale, notice the pause…

It’s as simple as that, and in the beginning you might want to keep your practice that basic. I invite you become very comfortable with noticing the way you breathe, then you can follow these simple steps to change it up:

  1. Notice your inhale and take in a little more air than you normally would.
  2. Hold the breath in for a second or two to extend the pause.
  3. Notice your exhale and gently press out more air than you normally would.
  4. Hold the breath out for a second or two to extend the pause.
  5. Try slowing everything down – extending the length of the inhale and the exhale as you practice.
  6. Repeat over and over and over again.

By simply learning to control and deepen your breath, you can calm your mind and heal your body! There are so many benefits to deep breathing. Here are just a few of the benefits you’re in store for when you practice focused breathing:

  1. Elevated mood
  2. Improved ability to focus / clarity of mind
  3. Boosted energy and stamina
  4. Improved immune system
  5. Relaxed muscles and reduced tension in the body
  6. Lower heart rate
  7. Stabilized blood pressure
  8. Improved circulation and blood quality
  9. Improved digestion and assimilation of food
  10. Stronger lungs and heart
  11. Help with weight loss
  12. Detoxification and release of toxins from the body

All those benefits from simply focusing and changing the breath! Plus, it’s free and easy and you can do it anywhere, anytime!

So check in with yourself right now. How are you breathing? Does it feel effortless or cumbersome to change up the way you’re breathing? Can you commit to practicing these simple steps throughout your day? I’d love to hear how this practice goes for you. Leave me a comment and let me know!

PS: In case you missed my recent newsletter, you can click here to read it and learn about my 100 Days of Yoga project.