Breath of Joy

I’m home sick today with the evil flu that’s been going around, so I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite practices for boosting energy and lifting mood- this is wonderful if you’re in a funk or you need to shake off a negative thought or experience. Also a wonderful practice for first thing in the morning, or anytime there are cobwebs in your brain you want to break through.

When we fill the lungs completely with air, it signals to our nervous system that everything is ok, that we can relax. The implications of this are huge. Blood pressure is lowered, digestive function improved, the effects of anxiety are greatly alleviated. So much of our well-being is linked to the way we breathe, and this practice can be a good way to re-set the pattern.

Breath of joy is a simple pairing of breath with movement that anyone can do. However, those with balance issues, low blood pressure, glaucoma or migraines should exercise caution and consider remaining upright during the exhalation. If you start to feel light-headed during the practice, pause for a few moments and breathe normally.

Stand with the feet hip-width apart, the knees slightly bent and the arms resting comfortably by the sides. Inhale and exhale fully to begin. Take a small sip of air through the nose with the lips closed, bringing the arms up to shoulder height. Take another small sip in through the nose and spread the arms wide out to the sides. Take a final sip to fill the lungs completely while bringing the arms overhead. Exhale fully, bending at the waist and allowing the arms to swing back, or remaining upright if there are any of the aforementioned issues at play. Repeat this as many times as feels good for up to ten rounds, then return to standing, letting the arms swing until they naturally come to stillness. Close your eyes and enjoy the results of this invigorating practice!

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