A lot can change in a week. March 2020 has been a wild ride for many people all over the world—And we don’t say that lightly. On a positive note, March issued the end of Mercury in Retrograde
and the first Super moon of the year
, which is believed to not only usher in the start of spring, but also restore the spiritual clarity and good fortune often shrouded by a winter retrograde event. On a negative note, March also saw the full on spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19)
across the United States. As we see other highly developed nations’ healthcare systems buckle under the demands of this curiously contagious and dynamic disease, you may likely already be living in a state that has closed all bars and restaurants to sit down dining, along with schools and religious congregations, in the name of “social distancing”
—a quarantine-like tactic aimed at stalling the spread of disease by stalling human contact altogether. This certainly isn’t the first pandemic we’ve seen in the twenty-first century, but it is arguably the first to require such serious measures to keep the population safe.
It is totally understandable if you find yourself feeling isolated or scared as we collectively yet separately face this unknown threat together. Fear can tell us a lot about what we value—our health, our families, the elderly—but it can also tell us a lot about what we do not understand or what we cannot yet control. May this season fill us with renewed gratitude and humility: Gratitude for what we have and perhaps even take for granted, whether that be temperature controlled water from a tap or a strong immune system. Humility for our human limitations. As it turns out, life is still very precious and fragile, but we can be exceedingly thankful for each new day under the sun.
With this in mind, we find it timely to continue on with our spring cleanse series, as our focus for this week is on Ayurvedic breathing for meditation and calm
. Breathing is an important part of any meditation practice as it enables us to experience flow and aligns our chakras brings them into harmony with each other, which allows your entire energy body to be reset and cleared of negative blocks. In other words, practicing an intentional breathing exercise will literally clear your mind, improve your mood, revitalize your physical self and generally leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated.
Let’s begin! We’re going to walk you through two different breathing techniques to revitalize your spirit and bring you calm during this difficult season:
1. Tantric Breathing: Achieve Oneness Between Your Shiva & Shakti Selves
According to Sahara Rose Ketabi at Yoga Journal
, “Whether we identify as male or female, we all have Shiva and Shakti energy within us. Shiva is located at the top of our heads (crown chakra), while Shakti is located in the base of our spines (root chakra).” When these two essences are aligned, we are able to access greater insight, inspiration and wisdom. One common (and fun) way to achieve this oneness is through orgasm. But another way is through breathing!
Bhastrika is also known as a Bellows Breath
. This is a rapid and vigorous breathing technique that requires you to breathe in and out quickly, allowing your belly to move out on the inhale and draw back on the exhale. As you breathe out, lift your pelvic floor up—also known as a Kegel—which will enhance blood flow to that region. Do this about 27 times in a row. Then, take a deep breath and hold it. Bear down on your lower abdominal muscles and slowly roll your head up and down about three to five times. As you release, slowly exhale and allow your head to slowly roll back up. Feel your breathing naturally go back its normal state.
This technique will be especially beneficial to you during Kapha season as it is designed to ground you in the reality of your whole self while releasing those negative emotions we tend to store in our sacral and root chakras. These are feelings that ultimately weigh us down and hold us back, blocking our ability to be intimate, trusting and secure in our relationships.
Repeat this practice daily for ultimate clarity and freedom.
2. Pranayamas for Kapha Season
A Kapalabhati (skull cleansing) or Ujayyi (victory) technique are two kapha-pacifying options to balance out the cold, wet qualities of Kapha season with warm, dry lightness:
: Also known as “breath of fire,” kapalabhati is frequently used in hatha yoga increased perception and knowledge
. It involves taking explosive inhales combined with longer, more passive inhales. As you exhale, concentrate on forcefully contracting your lower abdominal muscles in order to expel (or explode) all the air out of your body in one single breath. The passive inhale you experience directly after should feel natural and reflexive. If you’re a beginner, you may want to cup your hands and press them (gently!) against the muscles of your lower belly to aid in the expulsion. Exhale on a count of 1 and inhale on a count of 8 to 10. Repeat this 25 times, gradually increasing in number as your body becomes more familiar with the technique.
: Known as “victory breathing” since it leaves practitioners both more relaxed and more energized
, for this technique your inhale and your exhale should both be long and smooth. To begin, gently constrict the opening of your throat to create resistance against the passage of air. You’ll know if you are doing it correctly if your breath sounds slightly labored but is not painful—Like a chill Darth Vader or the waves of the ocean. Roll your shoulders back and slowly release the muscles, lay your hands by your side in a gesture of receiving and imagine your heart spiritually opening to the universe. Repeat 30 times or as needed to feel calm.
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