Before you begin this session please read and listen to our Introduction to Yoga with We Be Kids. The three part yogic breath (Dirga Pranayama) is a grounding & calming exercise, that brings clarity & attention to your every moment. It can be used as a preparation for physical yoga, meditation, sleep and is also useful to have in your pocket of self help tools at times of stress, anxiety or uncertainty. It is a gentle easily accessible practice that you can learn and develop yourself at your own pace. The audio offerings here are designed for someone new to yoga breathing practices and are the first stages of this practice. Listen to the audios & pause when prompted to develop your own practice. When you learn that we can breathe in & out an approximate 20,000 times a day it becomes unsurprising that breath work is an integral part of yoga, as a way of aiding the body to relax and maintain exceptional functioning. After all, that is A LOT of breathing going on & for much of it, many of us go about our everyday fairly unaware of this vital function that keeps us alive.
Mostly, breathing is the absorption of oxygen from the air around us & the expulsion of waste matter, predominantly carbon dioxide, from the lungs. Generally we breathe through either the mouth or the nose & the respiratory functions are subconsciously controlled for us by part of our brain called the medulla oblongata. Part of the medulla oblongata is described as the ‘respiratory group’ & functions from there are super sophisticated - the human body is truly the most advanced computer machine! Our breathing rate is determined by receptors that can tell how much carbon monoxide the body is trying to expel from the bloodstream at any time & how much oxygen is required & then balances it all subconsciously for us without us even needing to be aware of it for the majority of the time! Wow huh! Human biology is truly fascinating. So, remember to listen to your own breath, it is intelligent and knows what you really need from it. Never force the breath to be longer or shorter than is comfortable, learn instead to discover your own breath boundaries every day and know you can stop and start as you need. It is ok to move from Stage 1 onto Stage 2 and then back to Stage 1 depending on how you feel at any given time. There is no pressure whatsoever to progress through the stages laid out here. Yoga is not about "progression" in a formal way, which can sometimes be difficult to understand as we live in a world that is all about 'linear progression' in one way or another, but this exercise is more about; noticing & noticing if and what you are noticing; it is about getting to know where you are right now in your Self, in this moment, in this breath, in this life. You can stay with Stage 1 for as long as you like, until you feel like you are curious enough, or might be ready, to move onto Stage 2 - no-one needs to determine that but yourself.
Whilst using this yoga resource to inspire learning, know you are helping you and your family's wellbeing:
1) Get Active - yoga may not be running a marathon but regular practice will reap many benefits to the physical and mental bodies.
2) Keep Learning - Use this session to help your body and mind learn a new way of breathing to promote calm and wellbeing. Over time, your breathing rate may lengthen and become deeper and calmer over your practice
3) Be Mindful- Noticing our breath and how it affects us mentally and physically when it is either heavy, struggling and laboured, or deep and calm is central to understanding the power of breath. The three part yogic breath exercise lets us become gently aware of our breath. Try these with your family: Notice how your heart beats and you breath when you run up a long flight of stairs, or fast along a road, and how that differs to when you wake up in bed on a weekend? What do you notice?
4) Practice Kindness- In yoga only ever practice with kindness to yourself - EVERY practice is different and our bodies will feel the postures differently every time. Yoga should never hurt. Look after yourself - there is only one of you.
5) Think Community - Practice this session with your community - eg your family if you feel that this is useful & appropriate for them.