It goes something like this: wake up, check emails, get ready, go to work. Most of us go through our morning routine without much thought. And then we wonder why we have trouble focusing later in the day. When we start our morning by going through the motions, we set ourselves up for feeling distracted later.
Good news. We have a simple, yet underestimated, solution to add to your morning. One that will jumpstart your day with mindfulness and focus.
We’re talking about your breath. We all know that breathing is vital, but perhaps not in the way you’re thinking (stick with us on this one). Oxygen is one of the most vital nutrients in our bodies — it’s essential for the proper functioning of our brain and nerves. Increasing oxygen intake also develops concentration, relieves stress, and reduces toxins. Without the right amount of oxygen, we feel sluggish and lose focus. When done with intention, it brings a certain peace-of-mind and tranquility.
Pranayama* is a yogic breathing method — a practice we highly recommend. It’s often referred to as “the science of breath control” and consists of a series of techniques intended to keep our energy moving. The word Pranayama can be broken down into three parts.
Prana = “life energy” or “life force”
Yama = “discipline” or “control”
Ayama = “expansion,” “non-restraint,” or “extension”
Sama Vritti is a specific form of Pranayama. We think of it as the building block of the different techniques. With this type of breath control, you breathe through your nose — and each inhale and exhale is in equal duration.
Many of us only breathe from our upper chest, which is underutilizing two other chambers, the abdominal and diaphragm. This form of breath control allows us to take in a greater supply of oxygen and can actually increase lung capacity.
Take a big inhale… then a big exhale. And now we’ll walk you through how to do Sama Vritti.
Download Awaken Your Life Force and Quiet Your Mind by Michael Gannon on iTunes. He has an easy-to-follow practice called “Sama Vritti” in which he counts for you (#notanad…we just like his style).
Add elements to your space that help you relax. Sometimes we like to burn incense or spray essential oils (we find lavender especially therapeutic).
Find a seated position and get comfortable. You can sit on the floor, a bolster, blocks, a blanket, or a chair.
Proper alignment is essential so the oxygen can flow! Tuck your tailbone, lengthen your spine, and adjust your shoulders back and down.
Start with your normal breathing for a minute or two.
Hit the play button and let Michael’s calming voice guide you. His track starts with four counts on the inhale and exhale. He works up to eight counts and then takes you back down to four counts.
End again with a minute of normal breathing. Let the prana flow!
Once you get into a rhythm, we promise that it will make a big impact. We find that Pranayama is particularly effective first thing in the morning, but it can also help ease stress at the end of the day or before bed. There is no one-size-fits all. You do you!
The trick is forming a habit, which might be more realistic if you add it to your morning agenda. The entire process will take less than 15 minutes. So, tomorrow when you wake up, take some time to… just…breathe.
* Disclaimer: pranayama should not be forced or done without proper preparation or it may lead to health problems, particularly with the nervous system.