Inhale 2021, exhale 2020

In 2019, I finished a 200h Yoga teacher training certification. Post that, as a hobby, I was conducting Yoga classes for my colleagues in the office studio. Once the Pandemic hit and we all started working from home, this was no longer an option and I couldn’t find suitable conditions to have a full fledged Yoga class. I decided to adapt to an online class covering Breathing-meditation, as it required minimal setup ☺️

This is a 30m class focussed at teaching Pranayama and practicing breath focussed meditation. The attendees felt that it was a good way to start a day, it improved focus, cleared the mind and occasionally even cured headaches.

Until a few years ago I would frown at the idea of Pranayama. As someone who grew up in the 90s in India, seeing our very own Babaji (Ramdev baba) pulling his tummy in to showcase those magnificent ribs wasn’t a sight that inspired me to follow through!

Case in point

Although as they say, to appreciate certain things you need to experience them, the more I learnt and practiced, the more I could see its positive effects. Focussing on breath brings the focus inwards. This isn’t limited to the breathing but the body movements, the posture, awareness of the state of the body and finally the state of mind (the monkey-mind which does everything in its power to gain control of our thought process).

As you read this post, I’d like to turn around the tables on you, have you tried stopping for a moment just to be aware of your breath? Right at this moment, do you notice the breath or the parts of the body involved in the processes of breathing ? Do you feel the inhalation through the nostrils, the chest or the abdomen? If you are even more attentive, do you feel it in the throat ?

Sometimes, we go through the entire day without noticing how we breathe even once.

A newborn child learns to breathe through the abdomen, the most natural form of breathing, which most of us neglect due to clothing, lifestyle and lack of training. Now for a moment, imagine breathing through the abdomen. Inhale and once the abdomen has fully risen start filling more air in the chest and fill as much air as you can. While exhaling, first relax the chest and then let the abdomen sink in. The Yogic breathing is an advanced form of what I just described. It has an inhalation going from abdomen, chest then shoulders, a pause followed by an exhalation first relaxing shoulders, chest and finally the abdomen.

You’d be surprised to know that out of the 6 litre lung capacity(of an average adult) we only utilise 1/2 l when we are busy ignoring the breath. This means only 1/2 l of the air is refreshed and the rest of the oxygen stays stagnant. What if we could increase this lung capacity by a few litres ? We’d be providing more fresh air which would lead to better Oxygen circulation, control blood pressure, relax the cardiac functions and harmonise the nervous system. All of these reflect in a relaxed mind, better mood, sleep, decisions and relations! Wondering if all this is possible just by being attentive to the breath ? Yes, because by definition, Pranayama means controlling the breath flow, leading to expansion(ayama) of the vital life force(prana) and reaching a higher state of awareness.

Most of us have a sedentary lifestyle and we often say to ourselves that we should take out more time for workouts but lack of time, lockdowns or laziness end up stopping us. The breathing exercises however, are always accessible! Just being aware of the breath calms us down. I strongly feel, we have a highly under-utilised homegrown superpower right by our side, until our very last breath!

So, as we say a Goodbye to the mighty 2020, I invite you to exhale the toxins and negativity with each breath and inhale in the fresh 2021, but this time at full capacity!

If you made it all this way, a recommendation: guides breathing with timers and sound nudges.

Please ensure that you have an access to fresh air for the breathing exercises.



Yogi by dawn, Programmer by dusk

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store