Monday, October 31, 2011

Even Breaths

I have a yoga teacher who starts nearly every class in a similar fashion; she asks us, “is it easier to breathe in or to breathe out?” Inhales and exhales have different energies. On the inhale, we are filling our bodies with what the world has to offer. On an exhale, we are letting go of stale energy and anything in our bodies that no longer serves us. Over the course of our lives, we will have exactly as many inhales as exhales. Our first experience of the breath is an inhale, and our last experience is an exhale.

How often do you notice how they interact? How often do you notice which is stronger?

Lawyers and other professionals have a tendency to live on the edge and to struggle to find balance. It is no coincidence that one of the hottest topics in the professional community is work-life balance. The ubiquity of the topic indicates just how out of balance so many of us really are (and yes, I include myself in this category somewhat more than I would like). 

There are countless ways yoga can help us find balance, from asana (including tree pose) to noticing the equinox’s effect on our balance systems. But the simplest technique is to turn back to the breath. The breath and breathing is no foreigner to this blog, but somehow this simple technique has not yet graced its pages. And instead of focusing exclusively on the reality of balance, it focuses on the quality of balance, more easily expressed as evenness. 

The simplest technique is to bring evenness to the breath, evenness to the inhales and the exhales. Try this. Close your eyes (after you read this paragraph) and just notice your inhale and your exhale. Notice which one is longer and which one is stronger. They may not be the same one. Then consciously start to bring even them. Count the length of each, and try to inhale and exhale to the same count. Then slowly start to increase the length of each. See if you can double it from where you started.

Simple, right? All you have to do is breathe and count. Bringing evenness to the breath is a quick way to take control of our out of control lives and bring some semblance of balance back to them. A simple breathing technique cannot pick up the kids from school on time, but it just may help you slow down enough to focus and remember what time they have to be picked up. It can remind us that we carry this sense of evenness within us at all times. We just have to remember to tune in and notice.

The best part about this technique is that it can be done anywhere. Whether you are sitting at your desk or stuck in traffic, evenness in the breath can help you bring the quality of balance to your day. Just do it with your eyes open if you happen to be in your car.

What is your favorite way to bring evenness to your day? Do you notice a difference between chasing balance and finding evenness?


Even Breaths is part of the series At the Desk, which focuses on practical tips from the yoga world (and other interesting finds) to help those of us stuck at the desk all day long. If you are interested in other tips, click the label “At the Desk,” and if you have any specific questions you would like to see discussed, send them my way.

© Rebecca Stahl 2011, all rights reserved.


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  2. This is most helpful! I tried to even my breathing after reading this and I felt relieved and my mood seems to brighten. Will definitely try this when I'm feeling bored and grumpy especially in the office. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Thanks, Ces. I am glad this technique worked for you. Namaste!