Yoga practice offers us such a perfect gift–time to truly be with our breath. As we move through asanas, our breath is there, riding the balance between breathing in and breathing out. Most often, we are encouraged to literally balance our breathing, spending equal time and effort on the in-breath and the out-breath.

If only it were true off the mat as well. 

The analogy goes something like this..

Breathing in represents all the ‘doing’ in our lives: carpooling, work, cleaning the car, caring for our parents or children, running the errands, in essence, our never-ending to-do list. When we are doing, we are likely to be exerting energy, feeling under stress. We can feel alive in all this doing, yes, but enough non-stop doing can lead to overwhelm, too.

Breathing out represents the ‘being’ in our lives: meditation, gardening, connecting authentically with a good friend, napping, resting, walking in nature and so on. Breathing out is a reset for our body, mind, and spirits. Breathing out is when we get to let go, and let in. Breathing out we do out of love, allowing us to care more deeply for ourselves.

Breathing in is busy.
Breathing out is quiet.
Breathing in is depleting.
Breathing out is nourishing.

According to yoga and Ayurveda, we need a balance in our lives between breathing in and out, just like our yoga practice. In fact, it is said that if we overemphasize breathing in in our lives, that we will eventually find that we are breathing out more and more in the form of sickness and disease. If we aren’t willing to take a needed break, sometimes we find we get one whether we consciously want it or not.

Breathing out is more powerful when it is done consciously. While vegging out in front of Netflix with a bottle of wine may be enjoyable, it tends to numb rather than nourish. (Sorry.) Breathing out activities reminds us of who we genuinely are. There is a sense of inner listening that defines breathing out. Do you love to paint or knit? Do you love to cultivate the beautiful blooms in your garden? Look towards those activities that replenish you, that feed you on a deeper level, where you become more resourced, inspired and more yourself.

Some practices to consider:

  • daily meditation practice
  • yoga nidra
  • napping
  • oil massage (abhyanga)
  • walking outdoors
  • inspiring reading
  • daydreaming
  • watching the sun rise

What are your breathing out practices? Please share!

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