Tag Archives: breathing

Meditation on Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia, specifically located on the island of Borneo. It was climbing this mountain that made me appreciate living in the very present, where the focus is just about the placing of one foot in front of the other and taking the next breath. It all sounds very dramatic, but the environment forces you to slow down and just be in this moment. Everything else pretty much fades into the background.

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I’m sure many of us can think of a time when we have experienced something like this, but at this altitude the experience is heightened as our basic breathing becomes laboured, making it harder to walk and even think. In some cases, people are affected so much they vomit and become rather ill, the only way to overcome this is to return to a lower altitude.

Focussing on a mantra can get you through the toughest of tasks

It’s only now that I look back that I realise this particular climb was a form of meditation. It was pretty much just me, my legs, breath and mind. The last stretch to the summit wasn’t an easy climb but I stayed focussed, and I kept repeating the positive mantra of ‘I can do this’, which at the time was only slightly stronger than the ‘This is too hard, I can’t breathe, I feel sick, everyone else has already made the summit and is coming back down!’ That one little phrase and the ability to focus on the present breath is what got me to the top! And what an amazing feeling it was to get there, that incredible sense of achievement and battle against the elements, ok it wasn’t Antarctic, but it was my own battle and I won! I’m still very proud of that moment, and if I’m having a bad day I’ll think of how I got there and that feeling at the end.

Reaching the top doesn’t mean the hard work is complete

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Admittedly reaching the top didn’t mean it was over. I’ve always found climbing down a hill or mountain just as hard as going up it, if not harder. In this instance my water bladder sprung a leak, and all the water escaped, leaving only a 330ml can of Diet Coke to get me back down to the bottom, and at altitude fizzy drinks just taste like a thick syrupy liquid, not the best back up drink to have available. When we had the chance to stop off for food I was so dehydrated that I couldn’t eat. My friend who I caught up with on the way down got the brunt of me in the worst ‘hangry’ state I’ve ever been in! Thankfully he had a spare bit of food, water and a sense of humour to share, forever thankful for that.

Being in the present

So, whenever you hear someone talk about meditation, and it conjures up images of people sitting silently in a crossed legged position, try and think about it as a way of being in the present moment of whatever activity you are engaged in. You might find you have been in states of meditation more than you realise. When was the last time you experienced being in the present forgetting about past and future worries or cares?

 

Special thank you to Anuj and the team at Feedspot who featured me in the Top UK Yoga Blogs!

https://blog.feedspot.com/uk_yoga_blogs/

 

 

 

Breathe Through Your Pregnancy

Breathing, we all do it. Simple as that, or is it?

 How often have you thought about your breath?

Maybe you’ve got stressed about something and the next thing you notice is you can’t breathe. Or perhaps you have paid attention to your breath, and realised how calming it can be, which in turn slows the breath further and makes you feel even more relaxed and calm.

During pregnancy, breathing may take on a whole new experience.

 Your body may feel more fatigued due to the extra weight and hormonal fluctuations. As your body changes your blood volume increases by up to 50%, which in turn makes your heart work harder. Not only that but as your bump grows and requires more room, this will leave you with less space for the lungs to expand. No wonder pregnancy can sometimes feel like hard work.

How will yoga help me with these changes?

Yoga will help you to focus on the breath enabling you to notice how the body is feeling on that day or moment in time. Moving through poses will help the breath to carry oxygen around the body more easily and will help to loosen up the muscles supporting the lungs in the upper body. As space becomes a premium the muscles may feel shorter and tighter and gentle movements will help to feel like the muscles are lengthening and creating the sensation of more space for breathing.

Are there different ways to breathe?

 Yes, there are many types of breath such as the traditional yogic Ujjayi breath, breathing in and out of the nose making an audible noise that sounds like a calm ocean. In my pregnancy classes the favourite breath work is; the Golden thread breath, or Mother’s breath. It is a discreet breath; in that you don’t make any audible noises and you can practice this anywhere at any time.

To start with find a comfortable seat and allow the body to relax and keep the eyes soft or closed. Inhale though through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Keep the lips soft with a small gap, imagine you are holding a thin piece of paper between the lips, just enough space for the air to pass through. You may find the exhale is naturally longer than the inhale, which is fine and you may find with each round of breath the exhale gets longer each time. It’s important to note that in pregnancy you mustn’t hold your breath at any point, keep the breath flowing. With each exhale imagine that the breath is being carried away on a golden thread, and with it any pain, discomfort or tension.

Sometimes it can take a while to find a new way of breathing comfortable, so stick with the practice where and when you can, eventually it will become second nature. You may find that during times of stress your favourite breath may kick in to help keep the body calm.

Breathing alone may not help us sail through pregnancy and birth, but it may help create a sense of space and calm, and if we feel in control of it, then it is a definite win.

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5 benefits of breath work during pregnancy

  1. Reduces stress
  2. Creates a sense of calm
  3. Helps you to feel in control
  4. Helps to reduce blood pressure
  5. Helps you to feel connected with your body and baby

Do you have a favourite breath that you come back to in times of stress?