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Exploring breath control through Pranayama

Bringing conscious awareness to our breathing (our most-autonomic of body systems), we affect changes in our body that can also change our mind. When instructors at The Ranch talk about breath during meditation, they‘re usually describing ways in which the body can come to a relaxed place so the mind will follow. The goal is to slow down, find clarity, and come to your “meditative place,” however you may define that.

Pranayama, for example, is the practice of controlled breathing. By focusing on breathing exercises we can transform our “in the present” moments (the oft-described “monkey mind”) to a condition of relaxation or grounding—great whenever you need to be calm. Pranayama is also a very nice entry into a deeper meditation practice.

Start sitting tall: your spine should be long and not hunched. This allows your airway to stay open. Close your eyes and rest your hands on your abdomen. Slowly begin to deepen your breath so you can feel your abdomen gently rise and fall. As you do this, begin to count the seconds of your inhale and the seconds of a comfortable exhale. Try to make them equal. Generally, a four-count breath is accessible to everyone, but the underlying idea is that your breath should remain easy and expansive, relaxing and comfortable.

If a slow four-count feels long, then start with a nice and steady two- or three-count. For a fuller more-expansive breath you can increase the count to a pace that works for you. Always breathe at a pace that works for you until you feel complete, clear, and calmmmmmmm.

See The Ranch’s Mindfulness and Reflective offerings. Read more about meditation.