Welcome to Your Breath Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 8

Lengthening Technique 1

10 min - Practice


Kira leads a simple class to help us find more room to breathe before exploring a 4-part ujjayi breathing pattern. After seated stretches to create space in the ribs, upper back, and chest, we lie on our backs, begin to intentionally slow the breath, notice the resultant slight pull at the throat, and start to play with extending the inhales and exhales.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Let's get a little bit more room around the diaphragm and in the intercostals, those little muscles in between the ribs, and then start to explore a 4-6 ujjaya pranayama pattern. So finding something like sukhasana easy, or I'm sitting up on a blanket to make it even easier. Snuggle in and begin to walk your hands forward. Let the elbows bend so your upper back can round, like intentionally let your upper back round a little bit, and then use your power of your attention to begin to breathe into the upper back. Like see if you can really feel your ability to widen and open up through the ribs, and then it really helps if you wiggle a little bit. Keep an awareness on kind of breathing into the back of the body, and if it would feel good, walk your hands a little bit more forward, and then settle in again, letting the elbows bend, rounding. Super nice. Okay, start to make your way over to a side as you make your way over to the side. Let the elbow on that side drop down. So drop down on the forearm, kind of let yourself tip over, and let the top arm reach up out and over the top of your head. Let that elbow bend a little bit, and then roll the opposite hip away, like roll the hip away, and reach the arm wide. So you really start to feel those little muscles, those intercostals, start to stretch, and then use your attention to breathe up into that lung. Like really let that upper top lung open. Yes. Okay, take a look down at the hand on the earth, and then slow. Let an inhale bring you all the way back up. Nice. Beautiful. Let the hands come behind you now. Okay. Fingertips point straight back, and kind of start to wiggle your shoulders underneath you, and just kind of start to wobble and wiggle a little side to side. Let one side kind of open, let the other side open, and then use your attention and your breath to intentionally start to lift and expand up through the chest. Some of you are going to keep your chin into your chest. If you'd like, some of you might turn your wrist so that your fingertips point towards your body now. That gives a little bit more support if you want to let your throat open and your face lift. Okay, nice. Lead with the heart, let yourself come all the way back up.

Beautiful. Okay, switch the cross of the legs. Same idea. Let your hands come out in front of you. Let your elbows start to bend, and with your elbows bending, intentionally let your upper back round, like allow yourself to round here, and intentionally allow your awareness to open up in the back body, like feel your ability to breathe up into one side a little bit, and the other side, and wiggling always helps. Yeah, this might be enough. Some of you might lift up a little bit, you might walk your hands just a little bit more forward, and then let the elbows bend again. Yeah. Beautiful. Super nice. Super nice. Inhale, lift it up. Exhale, walk your hands over to the other side. Let the forearm on that side drop down and tip over. Tip over enough, like let that opposite hip come up off the floor. Circle this top arm up out and over your face, and begin to feel your ability to roll that hip away and reach, and really feel your ability to open up in between the ribs, these little intercostal muscles through that side waist. Yeah, we are essentially trying to get a little bit more breathing room. Beautiful. A couple more moments. Let your mind help you move your attention into that top lung. Yeah. Gorgeous. Okay, take a look down at the hand on the earth, let it inhale, bring you all the way back up. Exhale. Super nice. Let the hands come behind you again. Start with your fingertips pointing straight back. Wiggle your shoulders back and down. Wiggle up through the heart, and this might be the perfect spot. Just kind of wobbling a little bit side to side, intentionally lengthening up through the front of the torso, breathing into the front of the torso here. If you'd like, turn your fingertips so they point more in towards your body. That will create a little bit more structure. If you want to lift up through the heart and let the throat open and the head and neck drop. Gorgeous. Okay, use the hands to help let the heart lead as you come all the way back up. Beautiful. Now you could do this next part seated if you'd like, but it can be a little bit easier to kind of get in the mood if you lie down.

Don't ever trust anybody that says that to you. Okay, so set up a blanket for your head. If that would feel good, let yourself fly all the way back down. Widen your feet maybe and let your knees fall together so your back is comfortable. And now gently just kind of let your hands, maybe let one hand rest on your heart and one hand rest on your belly. This can be quite comforting for the nervous system. Nice. Big deliberate inhale. Exhale everything. And now bring your mind's eye to your diaphragm. We've been exploring this dome shape muscle this whole season.

And can you start to be aware and start to consciously and deliberately just kind of feel how you can activate the muscles around your ribs to help create a space as you inhale, to create a sense of widening. And now can you start to sense how you can slow down the release, the exhale. So just with your intention, feel how you can start to deliberately with your mind's eye have a sense of widening that diaphragm. And as you do that, have a sense of how you can deliberately start to slow down, retard the exhale. And naturally, just by intending to do that, you'll naturally start to feel how as you inhale, there's a pull on the throat. Yes. And exhale, it kind of relax that contraction. And as you feel that natural pull on the throat, you're starting to feel what the yogi's called jalandara bandha, the throat or the chin lock. And as you start to feel that, just like go with it, let the back of the neck lengthen and let the chin drop just slightly on the inhale. It's like the slightest little architectural detail. And as you exhale, feel how there's just like the slightest little bit of release of the engagement. It's not a big giant movement, but there's a softening. Yes. Now all of this is just happening quite naturally, just as you intend to consciously expand the diaphragm, there's a conscious sort of little contraction in the throat to help slow that down. And you might start to hear that slight audible sound. Sometimes yogis refer to it as sort of similar to how you hear the ocean in a conch shell. Sometimes it's the suggestion that you've become Darth Vader. If you sound like Darth Vader, you've gone just a little bit overboard. And then just for the fun of it, not because we have a goal, but just for the fun of it, is you can feel your ability to naturally kind of expand the diaphragm and slow down the exhale, just check in and see what your count is. And as you come across the next inhale, see if you've started to hit a one, two, three, four. And as you exhale, see if you might have started to hit a six, five, four, three, two, and one. So just kind of check yourself, check your count.

See what it is for you. Let yourself count up on the inhale, and down on the exhale. And if you run out of air on the way down on the exhale, if you're counting down from six, but you run out on three, then just change the count to three, two, one, and just play with this. Just start to kind of check in. Again, not because we're trying to like hit a goal, but we're just starting to assess. Just kind of see what's relatively relaxed and easy. Super sweet. Keep on with that. Do that at night on your way to bed. Do that in the morning when you wake up. Do that when you're stuck in traffic. Just start to kind of like check in, and essentially it's like taking the pulse of your breath. Love.


Christel B
2 people like this.
Francesca Venturini
Thank you for this beautiful journey.....so sweet!!
Sandra Židan
Great! Thanks, Kira!
Kate M
1 person likes this.
A sweet pathway into ujjayi! Love : )
Barbra K
1 person likes this.
Love this….
Kira Sloane
Barbra K, xoxo
Linette C
1 person likes this.
Love , into my heart and this day . Thankyou
Kira Sloane
Linette C, so happy to see you here. xok
Laura M
you're the very best! thank you for teaching
Kira Sloane
Laura M, You are! LOVE

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