|I must confess, I tend to be a bit willfully disobedient during yoga classes when I’m instructed to take a deep breath, or to inhale on command. I love yoga and thoroughly enjoy the flow of movement through postures, but when told to inhale I’m much more likely to release my breath and then allow it to return. My colleague Jessica Wolf likens taking a breath while there is still plenty of residual air in the lungs to wiping a counter with a water-logged sponge. And if you hear a big sniffing sound, there may be narrowing going on in the nasal passages*.
Releasing the breath in a well-coordinated way invites a full, free and elastic inhale.
The next time someone suggests you take a deeeeep breath, instead of hauling air in… release your breath gently.
Then sense out into the surrounding space and let go through your neck, your ribs, your belly…
And allow air to arrive through your whole widening back, filling your sail.
As your air flows out again on an exhale, consider which way it flows…..
Ethan demonstrates upward flow
Observe your interior landscape, below.
Can you imagine air flowing up out of your lungs, all the way up to the top of your nasopharynx and forward over the rim of your cheekbones as it exits through your nose?
What do you notice?
~ Spend that air freely ~
*The deliberate slight constriction of the back of the throat used in the yogic practice of ujjayi breathing creates a different sound than the sniffing noise of narrowed nasal passages.