Yoga: meditation and breathing
Most people think of yoga poses and exercises that make the body more flexible and strong. But what many don’t know is that meditation and breathing are important elements of yoga.
You want to manage your anger if you do not feel that you are always on the verge of making that jump? You want to feel less stressed and juggle all the things going on in your life? Need to focus better in class or while you do your homework? yoga poses can help. But meditation and breathing really complement these benefits.
Meditation and visualization
Meditation is a way to make silence, calm and focused. It trains the mind to slow down, relax and stay positive. Meditate for only a few minutes per day can help you to feel centered, balanced, and more in control – even during the times when you are not meditating.
Make meditation one of your daily routines (like brushing your teeth) can help you feel more grounded when it seems that you are pulled in a million directions.
Here are some meditation exercises to try:
Focus on the Breath
Try this as soon as you get home from school:
- Close your door, set a timer for 3-5 minutes, and find a comfortable place to sit.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
- As you inhale, feel your lungs inflate, your ribs expanding, and the breath moving through the nasal passages.
- As you exhale, think of your lungs deflating and the breath rushing out of your nasal passages.
- If your mind starts to wander, say quietly to you “think about it”, and then turn your attention to your breathing.
Visualize the success
This is a great thing to do when you feel stressed about something that comes as a big test, sports game, or performance:
- Set a timer for 3-5 minutes. Find a comfortable place to sit.
- Close your eyes and the things that image is going well.
- Visualize you feel ready and in control that you sit down at your exam, or you have typed in the winning goal in football, or winning the lead role in your drama audition.
Visualization does not take the place of real preparation. But it can help you to feel confident and manage the negative thinking that sometimes goes with stress.
Breathing is one of the most important parts of yoga. Breathe regularly while you’re in a yoga pose can help you get the most out of the poses. But practice breathing exercises when you aren’t doing yoga poses can be good for you too.
It may seem strange to practice breathing, since we do it naturally every moment of our lives. But when people get stressed, their breathing often becomes shallower and more rapid.
Pay attention to how you breathe can help you notice how you feel – it can give you a clue that you are stressed, even if you don’t realize. So start by noticing how you breathe, then concentrate on slowing down and breathing more deeply.
Try practicing these breathing exercises:
Breathing from the belly
abdominal breathing allows you to focus on filling your lungs completely. This is a great way to combat shallow breathing and stressed:
- Sit in a comfortable position with one hand on your belly.
- With your mouth closed and your jaw relaxed, inhale through the nose. As you inhale, let your belly expand. Imagine the lower part of your lungs fill up first, then the rest of your lungs to inflate.
- As you exhale slowly, imagine the air drain from your lungs, and leave the belly to flatten.
- To do this 3-5 times.
This type of breathing can help settle your nerves before a big test, sports game, or even before bed.
This breathing technique can help you to feel more balanced and calm:
- Sit in a comfortable position.
- Place the thumb of your right hand on your right nostril. Tuck your index and middle finger down and out of the way.
- As your right thumb closes gently on your right nostril, exhale slowly through the left nostril, as you count to five.
- Now, keeping your right thumb on the right nostril, inhale slowly through the left nostril, as you count to five.
- Lift your thumb, use your ring finger to close your left nostril and exhale through the right nostril for five counts. Then inhale through the right nostril to a slow count of five.
- Go back to put your thumb on your right nostril. Lift your ring finger from your left nostril, and repeat the whole process – exhaling through the left nostril for 5 seconds, then inhaling through the left nostril for five counts.
- Continue this pattern (exhale, inhale, switch sides) for three cycles.
These techniques of breathing and meditation can have subtle effects, but very powerful. If you continue to practice, the benefits will accumulate into tangible results. This can happen so gradually that you don’t notice it. But you know that positive change is at work when you don’t lose your cool during a fight with your parents or go into a crisis of stress before an important exam!