Yoga’s ‘5-breath’ technique to find self-compassion

I come from the world of “miles on the legs,” “push through the burn into another one,” and my personal favorite, “no one has lost a limb from it shaking.” No exclamation mark is needed as they are not statements made to motivate—they are a way of thinking. Then I was introduced to yoga, which is a world of this strange emotion labeled as compassion.

I was either raised in or have chosen to work within the worlds of dance, cycling, and bodybuilding. My environment was not one of negativity, but they would keep score if the goal weren’t to win.

I’m not here to critique these worlds. But to acknowledge that they give us the space to criticize ourselves. Yoga is the world of the mind. Willpower is the key to strength, and success is the ability to let go.

How do we put this new label called self-compassion on our mats? I don’t know all the answers. However, if you want a simple tip that is applicable, start with the 5-breath method.

Why Five Deep Breaths?

I can hold a pose for no more than five deep breaths. I use the word “deep” because my experience shows that when someone is in a pose, they either hold their breath or pant like a dog. This is not the way to give your muscles oxygen.

Dance taught me how to hold poses and smile for 3 minutes. Although everyone has their way of dealing with the burning sensations that rage through your body, I didn’t know my deep breathing was actually strain breathing. Let me explain.

There are many branches of yoga, and pranayama is just one. I was immediately drawn to the different ways to use the breath for the benefit of the body. I’m not talking about relaxing or calming down; I’m talking about understanding your own body.

I would exhale while still holding the breath in my lungs or with gritted teeth. Although I did complete my five-minute stretches, it didn’t take me an hour and a quarter to go “deep” in my stretches. Instead of focusing solely on the breath, I:

I inhale and then hold my breath as I feel the muscles tight. I exhale and then bring my attention to my core muscles by activating my pelvis.

Focus on the muscle group that is most stressed and inhale. Feel the tension in your muscles release as you exhale.

I inhale, feeling my ribcage expand SIDEWAYS as it fills with air. The third breath is often a mental obstacle for me. Exhale all the air I could have held on to in the first three inhalations. (normally, pushing air out of my mouth for this one).

Inhale, and let my body soften. I accept my body’s position whether or not I have gotten deeper in the pose. Exhale out the stiffness.

Exhale more deeply as you move into the pose. Exhale further, pushing the pose as far as it can go.

It’s self-awareness cloaked as compassion as you shift your attention from the physical actions of the body to the way the breath makes it feel. Tuning into your breath will allow you to reap the benefits of the pose. You do not need to be as beautiful as those Instagram photos.

You can find more self-compassion through yoga by using this simple breathing technique.

Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *