Pranayama & Meditation Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 6

Breathing for Meditation

40 min - Practice


After a few easy movements to open the back, front, and sides of the upper body, we settle into a restorative Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) to prepare for meditation. With the help of Rosemary and Citrine, Patricia shares two possible variations and offers a technique using the seed sounds of Ganesha and Durga to deepen and steady the breath. We bring this spacious calm to a seated meditation. You will feel safe and powerful.
What You'll Need: Square Bolster, Blanket (3), Block (3)


Read Full Transcript

Hi, everybody. We're starting standing with a few preliminary asanas, and then we're going to come down to the ground, and I'll show a couple of variations of a favorite for a lot of people, Supta Batokonasana, and we'll be working with some breath work again, and then we'll transition into sitting for some more breath work and stillness. Okay, so we're going to work with something called Garuda Arms and Wings, and we'll bring the hands and arms up. Satrine and Rosemary are working with me on this, and we're going to take the right elbow over the left elbow and entwine the arms. Now, if you can't quite entwine your arms, you can always just reach across the outsides of the shoulders and get the same back stretch. So we're trying to stretch the back of the neck and the spine. So inhale, and as you exhale, you're going to drop your head and allow your neck to stretch. It doesn't always want to release, and just release, and then start releasing the upper back. Let your sternum be pushed backward. As your sternum goes backward, your back broadens, and you can bend your knees a little bit and probably bring the stretch all the way down to your lower back. Exhale completely, and then inhale and come up, and once you're up, you're spreading your arms, you're inhaling and rotating the elbows upward, drawing the shoulder blades together. Really let the chest puff up in a comfortable way without overstretching the lower back. Next exhalation, your left elbow is going to cross over your right, and you can curl down first from your head and neck, and really, as much as possible, releasing that connection between the neck and the skull, and rounding, letting the sternum move back, bending your knees a little bit. So you're doing this for two or three breaths. As you finish this exhalation, uncurl and come back up, and once you're up, you let the arms entwine. So now you're the Garuda wings, the wings of the bird, and opening. Yeah, good. Okay. And then exhale, we'll do this a little more briefly this time, right elbow over the left. Exhale, curl down just for the length of one exhalation. Ujjayi can be helpful because you can get a deeper, longer breath, and then as you're ready to inhale, come up and open the arms again, and get that feeling of the heart space opening in front. And one last time, this time the left elbow crosses over the right. Inhale here. Exhale, curl down, sternum moves back, broaden the back. Let the lower ribs move back as well. Good. Knees bend and then finishing the exhalation, you're going to uncurl and come back up. This last time, open the wings. That's it. And so we've opened the back of the heart. Now we're using the back of the heart to support the front. And then exhale, let the palms come together in front of the heart. And then, now, just let your hands come down by your side. And either close your eyes or just let your eyes come into a kind of stillness. Closing them helps you feel what you've just done, what the effect has been. And Chinese medicine talks about the heart and lung meridians coming out of the chest and spreading out into the arms and hands. And so we've just stimulated those meridians a little bit, created some opening there. All right. So, lovely. Second posture I call yin yang side bend. Because of the positioning of the arms that we do, we're going to swing our right arm up and the left palm, it's like you're holding a big ball here. Feel it between your hands. Exhale completely here. And as you inhale, you're going to side bend over to your left, reaching a little bit higher with your right arm. And feel the length in your side ribcage.

Exhale, let your hands come closer together again. Transition around that little energy ball and up and over to the other side as you breathe in. Good. A little more space between the hands now. And as you exhale, transitioning, bringing the hands around. You can almost feel that ball there. Inhale across to the other side. Exhale, transition. So the depth of your movement, you can look up a little if you like, is what helps to open and create more space in your lungs and ribs, back around. Just let the hands come towards the heart, feeling that ball in there still perhaps. Ball of your energy. And then let the hands come down beside and five or ten seconds with your eyes closed. So you're just tuning in. So often we don't have time to do that. All right. Now we'll come down to the ground for our next asana. And we're going to be sitting in Baddha Konasana. So I like to sit on a blanket. I think you two are fine without. So at home you want to be comfortable and able to tilt your pelvis forward and that may happen better for you if you're on some height. And that's why I like to use it. Okay. So just you can just be holding on to your ankles and just that little bit of pull with the hands helps you. It pulls you down a little bit so you feel more into your pelvis and connected to the earth and free in the pelvic floor. Nice rib widening breath and we're going to take it into a twist. So it's a very simple twist. You'll reach across to the outside of your left ankle with your right hand and let your left arm swing around behind you and your hand is supporting your turn. So I have to bend my elbow because of the length of my arm but if your arm is shorter you may not need to do that. You're turning from the pelvis although the pelvis doesn't really turn much. Most of your turn comes in your rib cage. And as you turn around do let your head and neck turn as well but without strain. Notice that it's a little difficult to breathe into this body that's getting rung out by the pose and that's okay. That actually helps to loosen tightnesses. So one more breath here. And then exhale, release back to center and a nice just comfortable hold of the ankles again. Feeling into what you might notice from doing that. I can feel that I've relaxed in this upper thigh to pelvis connection. That's awfully nice. Okay so now we'll bring the left hand across to the right ankle. Right hand goes behind and just take a breath and you're pulling actually from right to left with the left hand. You could imagine also pulling up on the foot with your hand and your right shoulder blade is tucking back towards your spine and down. Ah yes.

And you're turning to look across the right shoulder although it's nice sometimes to bring your gaze back around and gaze out beyond your feet maybe 18 inches. Still while in this twist and breathing into the resistance. Okay and then let that go. I like to follow twisting with something a symmetrical pose. So it might be quite easy for you to release forward in forward baddha konasana. If it's not I'm going to have Satrine here just demonstrate a child's pose. A child's pose in this instance you want to have your knees fairly close together if that's comfortable for you and if not widen your knees and arms out at first but then do trail them back behind along your feet for the child's pose. I think out front for the baddha konasana is good. It helps you stretch your back but also that slight roundedness in both of these poses allows for a release into the back body. So often times we emphasize opening the chest when we're doing pranayama breathing exercises and we know it's important and helpful to release the sides but we forget how tight the back can become. So you're just breathing into your back body the pressure of your forward fold helps that to happen automatically and it doesn't take that long. So give yourself one more deep breath maybe if you're just finishing your breath you could take another one after that and then on your next exhalation bring your hands so that they're right near your shoulders. Let your head come up last so just let your chin fall down onto your chest as you're pushing up and have your eyes closed a nice slow coming up with the eyes closed and you can often feel just a really sweet you've been under the pressure of a forward bend and there's often a sense of release and almost a rushing upward. Pleasant. Okay so that seems like enough to get us started for our supta baddha konasana and we're going to do two versions so I'm going to show you at home first I'm going to show you with rosemary first because I really like this little innovation of the half round underneath the sacrum so rosemary your head is going to be at that end and you're this end and so the sacrum block is going to go down there and we're going to give you two blankets for under your spine and your head will be at the top of this blanket so you need to leave enough space between the blanket and the half round that your head is close to the end but not touching okay so you can come back a little ways yeah there you go it's just nice if your lower ribs can be fully on the blanket perfect and then you'll use these two cork blocks to support your thighs as you come into baddha konasana now as as you watch once she gets this support under her legs yeah so rosemary is quite open if if you're not this open would you show them how to dim how to support it higher I would say even let's let's let them and you if you put it on a slant like this then you your your block is slanted but as long as you're on a sticky mat that's going to be okay and then you have the flat of the block supporting your leg and not the edge infinitely nicer okay so why I'm playing with this foam block lately is that you can rock your pelvis in such a way that it creates more lower back curve and not have to hold the curve up so is that relaxed or and this tends to help bring the the breath into the belly region and we always want to establish the breath in the belly first so I'll have her be here when we start but she will at some point she will rock her pelvis backward a little bit she may have to use her hands to adjust it so that her back becomes flatter because the back is the forgotten part often in in pranayama and we really want the back to be free and when it's flatter in a reclining position you can actually breathe into your into your back easier so that's rosemary set up in the block for your head in a little while it's going to be right over here so you can find it and then finally yeah and you can lay those blocks down again if you're more comfortable we're gonna give you a block a belt all these things start with these blankets belts blocks okay so that's just to create a nice a little bit of more passivity and receptivity in the body for her and for citrine the head at this end for citrine and she's got her two blocks for her legs and we're going to have a blanket down here instead of the half round it's you don't you don't get the tilting aspect of it but it's still really nice not to have it a lot lower than the than oftentimes we'll put the sacrum way low and we're not going to do that in this version so this is for your sacrum and your spine and your head and support your legs with this okay come down just a teeny bit further that's it and then you can place the blocks however you like to be comfortable is that good all right and this is for a little thing that we're going to do later and then I'm going to give lay this if you have sandbag a sandbag is nice but what I like about the blanket is that it's warm and the sandbag can really chill you sometimes one could put a blanket down and then a sandbag on top that can be lovely okay hmm so they're settling in and I can see the the blankets kind of rising and falling with their breath can you feel that can you feel your your breath coming and going and just let the blanket help you to release the breath even further than you might without that little bit of weight there it's a wonderful reminder and you can you can feel the blanket rising and then I'm going to suggest that you breathe in and down into your belly and then breathe out and let your belly relax and I want you to become aware of the transitions between in-breath and out-breath and out-breath and in-breath so you could make it a habit to feel the beginning the middle and the entire duration of the breath and the completion and the transition so that's it's four sort of four aspects of the breath the beginning the duration the end and the transition transition is often very momentary but when we're resting like this and open oftentimes the transition will automatically tend to want to extend itself it's it's just very peaceful to end the breath and stop doing for a moment and I'm going to encourage you to do that to to observe that particularly with the exhalation so breathing in and down and feeling the rising a gentle rising along along the torso front and back and then as you breathe out notice the beginning the duration of the breath the completion of the breath the non-breathing moment or two before breathing in take a breath without guiding it a resting breath now just allow a breath to come and go a second one as well really helpful just to let go and not do every second and then after this exhalation and that feeling the transition then breathe in and down again allowing the breath to fill upward there's a slight transition moment at the end of the in breath and then letting the breath go from the belly the upper belly and the chest feel the completion of the breath and then tune in again to the transition does it want to be one or two seconds or does it surprise you that you might want to stay there longer and then allow the feeling of the need to breathe in be obeyed she who must be obeyed the breath breathe in again and taking a taking a resting breath again maybe two you decide there's a kind of a wave after a really deep breath I think it's because we you know we have this homeostasis that the body's used to a certain ratio of in to out breath a certain depth which is not very deep and suddenly because we're in such a wonderful comfortable position we find ourselves breathing deeper very easily it's like we could just breathe in forever or breathe out forever but our physiological body starts to feel that as a kind of stress it's like you're still breathing out and it's ready to breathe in and and this is because the settings need to be changed gradually from shorter breathing to longer breathing okay so you're going to take a couple more breaths this time you're going to allow a couple of more breath this time I'd like you to use some seed sounds for counting the length of your breath the seed sounds come from well like there's these deities in in Hinduism and one one of our favorites is Ganesh the the elephant headed boy and he is considered to be the Lord of obstacles and he's also the Lord of removal of obstacles and so oftentimes people want to chant to him to ask him and it's not really chanting to him it's chanting to that energetic inside of you that in you which is capable of letting the obstacles go of no longer creating obstacles but letting them go and the seed sound for Ganesh is gum oh gum so oh and gum and if you count one two three four you're using a different part of your brain that if you count ohm gum ohm gum two ohm gums comes to account of four and it's somehow easier to do that without having to think numbers and it and it's it's Sanskrit it's it's a completely different aspect of of connecting to ourselves than staying in number thinking thought and then the second seed sound that you might try if you might prefer a female you know you can invoke the the feminine protective qualities of Durga who is a Hindu deity who is sometimes known as the protector of the universe and her seed sound is doom so it's gum or gum for Ganesh and doom for Durga so sometimes I feel more like I need to invoke my my obstacle remover part of myself and sometimes I need to tune into the feminine protectors who is always looking out for me okay so choose one of those and just try two ohm dooms or two ohm gums on your inhale observe the transition between maybe it's one ohm doom and then the same ohm doom ohm doom on the out breath so the same number if you can gently filling with those seed sounds internally chanted using the transition time going in then to the out breath just two ohm dooms check in would it be easy to do a second cycle like that or is it time just to breathe without guidance you're getting to know what you can do see if you can keep the ohm seed sound equal inhale and exhale and as you come to the end of your next exhalation let go of the seed sounds let your awareness come a little bit more to the surface I'm going to have you take your spare block that you've kept near your head or near your arm after that and you're going to place it at the base of your skull and some of you will feel comfortable about using the medium height of the block you don't want it pressing on your neck or your neck bones and some of you will feel more comfortable with the block a bit flatter so I've got my my two students here showing you two different ways and the feeling of this should be whether it's the lower block or the higher block is that there's this rotational action in the skull where the brain tends to fall down the skin of the face releases towards the heart the eyes and it should just feel ultra comfortable and while you're here you can just be resting but if you want to try just a few more deeper breaths you can do that as well not trying to extend the length right now just working towards even inhale even exhale and I'll give you a minute or so to work with that. Okay. And then let go of the seed sounds just observe your breath how this practice is affecting you things can change quite strongly in these few minutes towards a very peaceful state of mind it's like a vacation come back with a completely different perspective on life so if you're using the block you need to take it away before sitting up and you might be comfortable with holding your head up with your neck or if you have neck issues you might want to hold the head up with one hand and remove the block with the other if you fall on asleep by now after a little while you'll recognize that and it'll all be well but do remove the block before you sit up and often removing the block it's like you've prevented an overabundance of breath and life force from entering your very delicate naughty nerves and psyche and then it's a more it's a pure form of energy that comes up into the head after these practices and people usually feel it's quite nice and we are going to transition now into sitting it can be nice to reach down and use your hands to scoop under the sides of your legs and and help to bring them start bringing them back up to start with and sometimes you might like to stretch your leg out and put the blocks under I'm going to show this with one of my students here to put the blocks under your thighs at an angle and stretch this leg out now too and I'm going to slide that under it should be above the knee enough that it doesn't that it it doesn't you know press on your your tendons or anything behind the knee and so this is a nice way to finish or you could just have your knees bent for a little bit you know if you need a nap this is a great transition into your nap but we're gonna we're gonna come up now so go ahead and bend your knees put your feet on the floor and remember that you're on a bit of a height and you can roll over towards your your right side and be there just momentarily two or three breaths really and then we'll we'll have we'll show you a couple of different seated positions that are nice for this continued breath work that we're doing okay so pushing up taking it nice and easy I think I'm going to have Rosemary sit on this half round because as I mentioned when she was lying down there's a possibility of working with pelvic tilt and I don't know if you'd prefer to have a blanket on top of it you can check it out and see and Satrine if you want to sit on that that would be fine or the blanket oh we're gonna put you in Virasana so she's gonna sit in hero pose and I'm gonna suggest that she keep her feet a little bit apart and put a block underneath her hips right underneath the sit bones width wise okay you can take it lengthwise if you're a very petite person but if you're a little bit wider you would want to have it width wise to really support the pelvis how's that feel yeah it's whenever the pelvic tilt can come without effort and and along with that the sense of the base of the skull lifting your posture from below and from above really seems to support everything suspend everything else and just this really beautiful effortless way so height is part of the key and of course developing the awareness all right so my two students look like they're in a good position I hope you are too what we were doing before we're going to just continue with the breathing in and down to fill up and then letting the belly press the breath out even as the chest remains a bit open in the beginning part of the inhalation and then the chest too relaxes without collapsing so there's this upward sort of waterfall kind of feeling in the chest continues and as you feel yourself finding an easy pace with that using the seed counting can be very very very useful so invoking either the Durga with the ohm doom invoking the remover of obstacles Ganesha with ohm gum let's try to ohm dumb ohm dumb or ohm doom on the in breath and to with the out breath if you find yourself spontaneously feeling like there's room for just a little slight longer you could add an ohm on the end of it which is essentially a count of five and as you're doing this you remain in that sort of magical back door to the third eye opening downward connection into the heart and I'd like you to do this to feel into this kind of breathing with whatever transition feels easy for you at the end of out breath only and after three breaths like this you're going to just kind of allow yourself to go into silence observing observing the sense of it you might want to put one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart just whatever whatever you're drawn to and we'll go into silence here for a few minutes the meditative state is enhanced by doing as little as possible just receiving and being and opening to the ineffable the ungraspable it's our true home


Jenny S
2 people like this.
WOW! That was fantastic. Feeling so refreshed. Thank you Patricia 🙏🏻💓
Patricia Sullivan
Thank you for saying so, and for tuning in to us! ❤️ Patricia
Lori H
1 person likes this.
Thanks so much, Patricia. Where can one get the half round?
Patricia Sullivan
Oh, you like the half round! Try Foamerica on the internet. They're very inexpensive. So glad you enjoyed the session.
Lydia Zamorano
Loved this so much. Thank you Patricia Sullivan
Patricia Sullivan
Hi Lydia, so happy you enjoyed this session. Love and Blessings!

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