Sometimes emotions and life experiences can feel overwhelming or out of control. By using focused attention, breath, and acceptance we can learn to bring the principles of yoga to our mental and emotional well being.
The following tools and practices can be woven into our daily schedules for short periods of time or for longer practices when possible:
- Open-mouth breathing
- Grounding practices
- Breathing with focused awareness and acceptance
- Tracking sensations, thoughts, feelings and images
1. Open-mouth breathing (expression)
Breathing through the mouth relaxes the jaw and throat, and encourages the expression of emotions, thoughts, and other inner experiences. It also keeps us present in the physical body, helping us to relax during times of stress. Keep the lips slightly parted as you breathe through the mouth. The breath is gentle and natural, not forced, rhythmical or focused.
2. Grounding Practices (creating safety)
These practices are very simple , yet profound, helping the body slow down, the mind become quieter, and creative energy to flow more freely. Choose a quiet place to practice.
Start by sitting in a chair with your eyes closed, feet planted firmly on the ground, back supported
Feel the solid support of the earth as you breathe deeply.
Put your hands on your belly and heart or wherever your body wants to be held. Gently breathe, sending love and acceptance into this body part. You may also use a comforting phrase such as “ I am here. I am safe. All is well. ”
To complete, gently open your eyes, stretch your body, and breathe deeply.
3. Breathing with focused awareness and acceptance (compassionate acceptance)
Bringing your attention and gentle breath to parts of the body which feel blocked, tight, or painful brings compassion and acceptance to these places. As we allow ourselves to reconnect with them and are willing to let them be just as they are, their energy begins to soften and change. Our rejection or denial gradually turns into acknowledgement and acceptance as new insights, possibilities for change, and lightness of spirit appears. This practice brings us into the power of the present moment, letting go of past experiences and future desires.
In a seated, relaxed position, begin to breathe slowly and steadily, noticing whatever appears in your awareness. Let your breath be soft and gentle, noticing and allowing whatever appears. Sometimes you will simply notice your breath and feel relaxed. At other times you may become curious and wish to explore your observation of colors, images, phrases, sounds, sensations. Return to your gentle breath and relaxed body awareness as you end this practice.
Take a moment to acknowledge yourself and your discoveries before slowly opening your eyes.