Spring is in the air (or at least it is on the calendar... gotta love New England!)! You may be feeling the stirring of wanting to get out side, in the garden or out on the hiking trail. You may even be thinking about doing some spring cleaning inside your home, releasing the clutter that may have built up over the long cold winter.
But have you considered that your body may need some spring cleaning too? Often the long dark winter days allow us to slip into habits that are less than optimal for our bodies. We might crave sugary foods, let our exercise routines go or forget to practice good breathing habits. Breathing habits you say? Yes breathing!
Did you know that breathing is one of the greatest ways your body removes toxins that are building up or stuff that is simply no longer needed in the body? This is one of the reasons why we feel so good after a yoga class! That concentration on the breath really helps the body release stuff it no longer needs. So if we're thinking about spring cleaning our bodies, adding a bit of extra pranayama or breathing practice can help. And it can be really easy! Try this!
Either lay on your back with your knees bent in your bed or on the floor or sit comfortably with your spine tall. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale concentrate on really squeezing every last bit of breath out of your lungs. Contract your belly, contract your muscles on the side of your ribs. You may even find in the beginning that you exhale fully and then exhale again (sometimes through pursed lips helps here) and there will be just a little more breath you can release. Let the contraction of all those muscles relax and let the breath come back in naturally. Then do another deep exhale. Continue this for several rounds.
Remember not to force or strain with the exhales. Just do your best to let them go as fully as possible. If you start to feel a bit lightheaded that's ok, but if it becomes uncomfortable definitely let the practice go for now and come back to it again later. You may find that feeling of lightheadedness reduces over time and practice.
Give it a try once a day for a week. You may find you feel lighter and have more energy. Let me know your experience!