Improve Breath With Pranayama Bolsters
Have you ever stopped and found it hard to breathe? Not from running or working out, I mean bottom to a chair, feeling your lungs struggle to fill to their full capacity.
In the midst of our daily grind, it’s possible to find ourselves incidentally holding our breath. Even more so, it can be hard to give ourselves permission to relax and let go of the increasing pressures and responsibilities we accept in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Ways to improve how we breath, and ultimately feel, on a day-to-day basis start with exercised to expand our airways, improve our posture, increase circulation, and release emotional stress in order to aid the body in breathing better and more efficiently. To do this effectively, we recommend using a Pranayama Bolster or rolled up yoga blanket to assist your body.
Place a Pranayama Bolster across your back under your chest cavity and lie in a reclined posture of your choice (we chose Supta Baddha Konasana).
Position the pillow to lift your heart up and towards your chin. Work to inhale gathering tension, and with every exhale releasing that tension and therefore opening up available space for air within the chest cavity. As you continue breathing in this way, your body will relax more and more.
Note your pectoral muscles can become sore from this exercise, which is completely normal. We recommend 5 minutes for this relaxation technique. Do not repeat daily if muscles become sore.
Expanding your rib cage and improving the flexibility of your lungs ensures more air with each inhale and exhale. Not only do longer, deeper breaths help your practice performance for each asana, but it also aids with decreased anxiety, improved sleep quality, energy levels, and digestion.
Option to place a folded yoga blanket under the body to support the knees and feet. Place a bolster under your thighs as close to your knees as feels comfortable.
Knees and feet together, sit back on your heels, or in this case the Pranayama Bolster. Feel free to wiggle around to make sure your knees are not strained and your calf muscles are shifted externally to rest outward. Engage your pinkie toes to the floor beneath you, engaging your core and lengthening the spine to receive optimal circulation and best posture.
Improving our posture will have immediate effects on how you breathe and how your organs function internally. Poor posture or spinal strength leads to misalignment of your ribcage, joints, and organs, which can lead to digestive issues and chronic pain.
Practice supported Hero Pose daily in order to aid in proper internal and external alignment.
Susan Lascoff from Harmony Yoga wrote in The Benefits Pigeon Pose “It is a primal reaction to store stress, trauma, fear, and anxiety in the hips. Pigeon Pose can be helpful in finding relief from sciatica and back pain as well as releasing built-up stress, trauma, fear, and anxiety. Pigeon Pose opens the hips and releases negative feelings and undesirable energy stored in your system.”
If you have anxiety as I do, you understand the common occurrence of our body reacting to our heightened cortisol levels internally. Holding our breath is a typical reaction of anxiety and stress, which is why yoga is known for aiding in diminished anxiety due to the benefits of our breathing.
For this supported Resting Half Pigeon, place a Pranayama Bolster horizontal under your front hip, aligning to your bent front foot. The goal is to have your front shin parallel with the top of your mat, however, this does not mean sacrificing your knee or hip if they are telling you to readjust. Flex the front foot in order to further protect the knee.
Hands, forearms, or head can come down to the mat to hold this posture. We recommend holding this posture for 5 minutes on each side.
Malasana, or Yogi Squat, is a great pose to push stuff down. You know what I mean . . . it literally helps clean you out! This, in turn, helps restore your internal organs and puborectalis muscles, giving you an internal “feng shui” for more energy to put towards positive thoughts.
Also great for relieving poor posture from a sedentary lifestyle, Prayer Squat aligns your organs internally ( contributes towards system flushing) which helps your lungs expand fully in a natural position.
Place a Pranayama Bolster vertical under your tailbone. Feet slightly turned out, squat down onto the pillow. Use your triceps/elbows to push your knees outward with your hands together. Reach the crown of your head high and sit for the tallest length of your spine.
No slouching, please! Hold this pose for 3-5 minutes daily.
Repeating these four simple postures daily, or even weekly will significantly help improve your normal breathing by reducing internal stress and waste, restoring your posture, opening your chest cavity, and increasing circulation within the body.
Let us know your thoughts! We would love to see how you use Pranayama Bolsters to improve your health.