Through yoga, we experience the pleasurable sensation of an inhalation that fills the chest and maybe even creates a subtle stretch though tight tissues, followed by the exhale that allows the body to soften and return- almost- to where it was before but with a little more spaciousness and ease. We learn how to use the breath as a tool to help loosen those areas of our bodies that have been stuck for a long time.
The aim of yoga is self-realization, or rediscovering who we are beyond the physical body and the material world. Yoga doesn't force us to change. It empowers us to move forward by showing us the truth of who we are and what we are capable of. It encourages us to take a look at our thoughts and actions, to see clearly where we hold ourselves back or keep ourselves stuck out of fear. Little by little, just like the blossoms on a tree branch, we begin to open, expanding into a new way of being.
Blessing for Expansion
May you find expansion in your body so that your lungs breathe each breath fully and completely, and you feel ease throughout your fascia, muscles and joints. May you find expansion in your mind, releasing judgements and ego, finding a clearer way to see and a bigger picture. May you find expansion in your heart, feeling unconditional love for yourself and others, trusting that as you expand, any discomfort you feel is only temporary. Know that with each expansion you become a fuller version of yourself, connected to the truth of your being.
Breathing Exercise for Expansion
This exercise is a breath-focused meditation that's great for expanding lung capacity and cultivating steadiness of breath. It emphasizes the expanding/contracting nature of life and encourages an inner radiance. Through this breathwork, we feel what it is to expand beyond our perceived limitations.
Start laying on your back with you knees supported by a blanket or bolster. Close your eyes and take 3 cleansing breaths in your nose and out your mouth. Inhale through your nose for a count of 3... exhale out your nose for a count of 3. Inhale for a count of 4, slowing your in-breath... exhale for a count of 4, extending your out-breath. Inhale for 5... exhale for 5. Continue increasing until you reach an 8-count breath. Take a final inhale and hold your breath as long as you can, followed by an exhale and hold air out as long as you can. Then return to a natural breath, allowing your chest to rise and fall effortlessly.