embodied practice: delighting in breath (cooling + calming)

I have found Kaki (Beak) breathing technique to be one of the simplest to teach, learn, and, most important, to make a regular part of my practice.  I use it to cool down my body when I’m running or practicing an energizing yoga sequence, to quiet and center my mind while meditating or when a task that requires my full attention, and to feel relaxed whenever I am feeling stressed.

You may practice this anywhere, at any time—sitting, standing, lying down or walking. With eyes opened or closed (as long as you’re not moving, that is!)

Begin by observing your natural breathing cycle for several moments.  Use each exhale to relax your muscles and to feel connected to the earth.  Use every inhale to create space in your body and to maintain a lengthened spine.

Relax your tongue and gently bring your lips together to form an “O” as if sipping through straw.  Allow your tongue to rest in your lower palate (perhaps touching the tip against the bottom teeth). Be sure to keep the lips softened—when pinched too tightly, you may feel deep creases in your lips and tension around your mouth and jaw.

kiiks does kaki breath.inhale
my kiddo–ever the willing model–sweetly demos “O”-shaped lips!

Slowly inhale through your mouth.  Feel the cool air flowing across your tongue. You may notice a sipping sound with the incoming breath, but don’t force it.

kiiks does kaki.exhale
ah, yes, to relax the mouth during the pause + smile gently sweetens the exhale!

Close your mouth. Pause briefly to retain your breath for a beat or two.
Feel the fullness of breath in your body. CAUTION: Only hold your breath for as long as it is comfortable—you should never feel any strain, dizziness or light-headedness.

When you are ready to exhale, slowly breathe out through your nose.  Feel the sense of relief in your body as it relaxes and becomes steady with this release of breath. [Allow your mouth to slowly stretch into a gentle smile, as my lil guru does above!]

Continue this breathing pattern for 5 – 10 repetitions. Inhale through your mouth with softly pursed lips; exhale through your nose with your mouth closed and relaxed. Invite the cooling sensation to spread from your tongue to the rest of your body. Allow a sense of calm and ease to prevail. As you cycle slowly and steadily through this breathing pattern, notice your mind beginning to soften, sort, and settle into a steady rhythm of awareness.

Return to your natural breathing rhythm. Spend a few moments noticing thoughts, feelings and sensations without judgment.  Delight in this quiet state of being—feeling cool, calm, and centered in body, breath and mind.

embodied wisdom: on self-acceptance

selfacceptance.chinese calligraphy

~ from Mentoring: The Tao of Giving and Receiving Wisdom
by C.A. Huang + J. Lynch

In Body Awareness Bootcamp, practitioners are invited to “go deep to come home” and awaken clear comprehension and compassionate action (small steps, sustainable choices).  Home, to the center of the self: the heart, where the seeds of self-compassion, self-acceptance, and inner wisdom are bathed in breath and awareness. The invisible thread of breath connects body, heart and mind. As breath blossoms in the body, with our skillful effort, the heart and mind becomes synced with the steady and subtle song of breath. Space is created for all to unravel and unfold into its full expression. Toxins and tensions are freed and released. We feel rooted, connected and resilient enough to embrace our whole selves.  We gently shine the light upon the neglected parts, remembering all that makes us complete. Nothing is left out of our loving awareness. Now we freely bloom.

embodied practice: on whole body awareness

Living, the whole body carries its meaning and tells its own story, standing, sitting, walking, awake or asleep.

It pulls all the life up into the face of the philosopher, and sends it all down into the legs of the dancer.

A casual world over-emphasizes the face. Memory likes to recall the whole body.

It is not our parents’ faces that come back to us, but their bodies, in the accustomed chairs, eating, sewing, smoking, doing all familiar things.

We remember each as a body in action…

Thus the stuff of the ages goes into man’s thinking,
is interpreted and comes out in movement and posture again.
Personality goes into structure—by denial or affirmation into person again.
It is an aspect of life in evolution.

~Mabel E. Todd
The Thinking Body