‘Smile, Breathe and Go Slowly’ Thich Nhat Hanh
On not so good days when I feel overwhelmed by the challenges of life, the one thing that works best for me is to sit down and just breath -trusting that things will get better soon. I’m sharing my simple pick me up guide that I often use at the start of my yoga class in order to help my students to relax and feel centred. A useful tip is to record this script and play it to yourself as you practice this effortless breathing technique. Feel your stress and worries melt away.
Sit in a comfortable pose. Feel your sit bones firmly rooted into the earth. Lengthen your spine, lifting from the crown of your head. Allow your shoulders to roll back and down as you lift your sternum up slightly. Elongate the sides of your neck and keep your chin parallel to the floor. Bring your hands into Chin mudra -the psychic gesture of consciousness with your index fingers rolled inwards, touching the base of you thumbs.Place your hands loosely on the knees with your elbows slightly bent.Gently close your eyes and bring in a very soft focus into your eyes.
Draw your awareness into your breath and become aware of breath flowing in and out of your nose. Do not attempt to control the breath in any manner. Simply observe your natural and spontaneous breath flow. Breath flowing in, breath flowing out of your nose. Observe the breathing. (Pause for a few seconds)
Now, draw your awareness to the back of your mouth, just above your throat and become aware of breath flowing in and out of this region. Breath flowing in, breath flowing out at the back of your throat, just above your mouth. Observe the breathing. (Pause for a few seconds)
Next, draw your awareness to your chest and become aware of breath flowing in and out of this region. As you breathe in your chest rises slightly, as you breathe out, your chest falls. Observe the breathing. (Pause for a few seconds)
Gently draw your awareness inwards, into your lungs and feel the lungs expanding as you inhale and relaxing as you exhale. As you breathe in, your lungs fill up with oxygen, your lungs expand, as you breathe out, the carbon dioxide is expelled from your lungs, your lungs relax. Observe the breathing. (Pause for a few seconds)
Take your awareness into your ribcage and become aware of your ribs expanding as you inhale and contracting as you exhale. Observe the breathing. (Pause for a few seconds)
Finally, draw your awareness into your belly.As you breathe in, feel your belly rising, as your breathe out your belly falls. As you inhale, feel the breath starting in your lower belly, travelling up to the middle of your chest and to your upper chest. Hold the breath. And now exhale – upper chest, middle chest, lower belly. Inhaling – belly rises, exhaling – belly falls.
Observe the breathing (pause for a few seconds)
By focusing on your natural and spontaneous breath flow, you should notice your breathing gradually slowing down. Become aware of all the muscles in your body relaxing with the slow breathing. Experience a sense of inner calm and wellbeing linked to the relaxed breathing. Draw your awareness into your heart centre and repeat to yourself the sayings from Thich Nhat Hanh ‘ Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.’ Now gently open your eyes, smile, breathe and go slowly…