Today’s practice is on Equal Breath. This practice helps us notice how long our in-breaths and out-breaths are, and then Mindfully change them so that they are the same length. There is no right or wrong way to do this practice, so just try your best. If you find that it doesn’t feel good in your body, practice Belly Breathing or Full Mindful Breath instead.
Equal Breath means we are breathing in for as much time as we are breathing out. So if our in-breath takes us to the count of three, our out-breath will take three counts too. The easiest way to understand the practice is to try it yourself, so let’s practice Equal Breath together.
Begin by finding a comfy seat and closing your eyes. Wiggle around a little to make sure you are really comfy, and then let your hands rest on your legs or knees. Relax your fingers here. Get really tall through the top of your head, and roll your shoulders down your back. If you’d like, you can imagine glitter from your Mindful Glitter Globe traveling from head to toe to help your body relax.
Once the imaginary glitter reaches your toes, begin to notice your breath. See if your breaths are long or short. Also see if your breaths go all the way into your belly, or if they only go into your chest. If you can, let your in breath fill up your belly, and let your out breath empty your belly (Belly Breathing). Then begin to move your in-breath through your belly, all the way into your chest for Full Mindful Breath. Let the out-breath move down from your chest, through your belly and out of your nose.
Once you find your Full Mindful Breath, see if you can count the time it takes for you to breathe in. It’s okay if you don’t get it exactly! Just notice about how much time it takes. Then see if you can count the time it takes for you to breathe out. A lot of the time one is longer than the other. In this practice we will see if we can make them even, and just notice how it feels.
Take your next breath in for 3…2…1 and hold for just a second. Then take your next breath out for 3…2…1 and hold out for just a second. Try that two more times on your own and notice how that feels as you breathe normally after [pause 15 seconds].
Now we’re going to make our in breath and out breath just a little longer. If this doesn’t feel good in your body, just stick with 3 counts. Take your next in breath for 5…4…3…2…1 and hold for just a second. Then take your next out breath for 5…4…3…2…1 and hold out for just a second. Try this 3 more times on your own, either for a 3 count or a 5 count like we just did. When you finish, breathe normally and notice how you feel and how that felt for you to practice [teacher: pause for 1-1.5 min].
When you are done, slowly open your eyes and come back into the room.
What did you notice in that practice [teachers take some reflections from students]?
Student’s Tip: You can practice Equal Breath anytime you want to notice how you are breathing. Equal Breath can help you slow down your breathing to take longer breaths in and longer breaths out. If you do practice Equal Breath on your own, try practicing Belly Breathing and Full Mindful Breath right before so that you can make your breath bigger before slowing it down.
Teacher’s Tip: It can be helpful for students to be familiar with Belly Breathing and Full Mindful Breath before this practice (if they aren’t already). This practice also refers to our Mindful Glitter Globe series, so that may be a good practice to do beforehand as well, or you can just take out the sentences about the Glitter Globe.