Written by Shonna Lamb, E-RYT 200, RYT 500, YACEP
With vast access to unlimited content, it can be overwhelming to know where to start when you want to develop a deeper understanding and relationship with meditation and mindfulness practices.
Ever Active Schools and I have partnered together to create videos to help you dip your toes into various practices and make these widely available to anyone interested. These videos are available on the Ever Active Schools IGTV. Some of the techniques we will explore are:
- Box Breathing
- Alternate Nostril Breathing
- Loving Kindness Meditation
- Guided Meditation
- Guided Relaxation
- Guided Body Scan
- Self-Regulating Breathing
In the video below, you can see a small snippet of the box breath technique.
Click here to watch the video if you have troubles loading it. A step-by-step written description is included below.
Box breathing combines inhaling, exhaling and retaining the air in our lungs for four equal counts. While we are doing this four-part breath, we are drawing a square in the air with our pointer finger on our main hand.
We begin by taking a couple of natural breaths and perhaps exhaling out the mouth.
When ready, we inhale through the nose for a count of four, and while doing so, draw one side of the square in the air. We retain the breath at the top of the inhale for a count of four while we draw a second side of the box. We exhale through the nose for a count of four, while we draw the third side of the box. We hold and retain the air in our lungs at the bottom of the exhale for a count of four before beginning the pattern anew. Once we complete the square we have done one full cycle and can repeat a number of times. In the beginning, aiming for four to six rounds per sitting is a nice place to start.
The aim is to take slow, deep breaths in this cyclic way to heighten concentration while also being a powerful stress reliever.
If the count of four brings any anxiousness, then you could lower the count to three or two. We want to build this capacity over time with practice and consistency. You could begin with four rounds every other day for a week, and then increase to daily. After a few weeks, perhaps you increase the number of rounds or increase the count length. We are aiming for slow and steady growth over a long period of time to create new habits and stronger respiratory health.
Some of the benefits of breath work and meditation include:
- Increased Self-Regulation
- Slows heart rate
- Lowers blood pressure
- Increased levels of calm
- Sharpens the mind’s ability to focus and learn
- Enhances daily happiness (we’d love you to report back your findings on this one!)
These practices have cumulative benefits over time with consistency. So, just like if you were wanting to train for a 5km race, you would craft a program to work with your schedule, resources and current level of endurance to slowly build over time. We take the same approach with these resources and techniques.
You don’t need to have prior experience, fancy clothes or a super calm mind to begin. You simply need to show up and try. Bringing along an open and curious mind isn’t necessary, but it helps!
Bill Murray says, “The more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything you do. The better you are with your loved ones… the better you are at your job, the better you are with yourself.”
We are excited to share these with you! We hope that if any resonate with you, you continue to experiment with them and even share with your loved ones, friends, students and children. If you feel called to, let us know what you tried! We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the practices you experiment with and the results of your findings.
Shonna is a lifelong resident of Southern Alberta, a mother to a very rad teenage boy and works in the field of philanthropy. She is trained in various styles of yoga, meditation, yogic philosophy, and yoga nidra (yogic sleep). She oversees and teaches for a donation-based organization called Pop Up Yoga Lethbridge to make yoga accessible to as many people as possible in her community. She also is the owner and Lead Facilitator of Lethbridge’s first Yoga School, where she trains students to teach yoga and share their passion of the practice to others via a 200 hour program.
With over 1,500 teaching hours under her belt so far, she’s continually drawn to alignment-based principles, creative freedom, humour, the lore of yogic philosophy and hip hop + punk rock.