Just breathe – how many times have you heard those two simple words when faced with a difficult or stressful situation?
The practice of deep, conscious breathing is a form of meditation dating back thousands of years and is heavily rooted in the history of every major religion. The practice may be old, but it is certainly not outdated. The simple act of breathing helps to solve many of our modern-day problems by improving focus, reducing stress, and becoming more resilient to the challenges we face in this ever-changing, fast-paced world.
There are many breathing techniques to choose from, each with their own unique benefits. Combining these techniques with the soothing art of needle felting can completely transform our day to day lives and view on the world. Here are 3 meditative breathing practices to try next time you’re needle felting and how to do them.
1. Diaphragm Breathing (Kundalini)
Diaphragm breathing focuses on the use of controlled breathing techniques and awareness of the diaphragm to move energy around the body.
How to do it:
Begin by breathing in slowly and deeply through your nose with the aim of filling up your belly with air. Notice how your stomach first expands and then contracts as you slowly push the air out through your nose. Repeating this technique for 5-10 minutes a few times a day helps place you in a calm, meditative state while also working to strengthen the diaphragm muscles.
2. Intermittent Breath Retention (Kumbhaka Pranayamas)
Originating in Hinduism, the practice of intermittent breath retention helps train the body and mind to stay relaxed even under stress.
When our breath is still, our mind is still.
How to do it:
Sitting upright, felting project in hand, heavily exhale all of the air you have in your lungs out through your mouth. Next, close your mouth and slowly inhale through your nose, noticing how the air feels as it travels through your body. Hold the air in your lungs for 3- 5 seconds, or as long as comfortable. When ready, exhale the air out through your nose, completely emptying your lungs. Wait 4-5 seconds before inhaling, and repeat.
3. Ocean Breath (Ujjayi)
Often practiced in yoga, this breathing technique encourages a meditative feeling throughout the body, especially during movement (like needle felting). Ujjayi involves the gentle constriction of the throat as we inhale and exhale to create balance and
stillness. It is often referred to as ocean breath because of the wave-like sound we make as we exhale.
How to do it:
Start by breathing in slowly and deeply through your nose and pause as you reach the top of your breath. As you exhale, gently constrict the back of your throat as you allow the air to be released.
In this practice, your inhales and exhales should be deeper and longer than your normal breaths and should be around the same length – try counting in for five and then out for five to keep your breaths consistent!
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