When Life Moves You Out of Alignment, Take a Step Back & Breathe

The Benefits of Breathing into Alignment

In order to live an authentic life, we must be in alignment. Meaning our outward actions must be in agreement with our inward intentions. Conscious breathing is a great way to line up the inner and the outer world. 

We spend so much of our existence seeking answers and things outside of us. This throws our system out of alignment. It starts subtly and ends up reflecting back to us images and lifestyles that we don’t even relate to. Following your breath is a significant way to guide yourself back into alignment. 

Breathwork offers effective techniques so you can…

  • Manage intense emotions 
  • Show up authentically in your life
  • Make inspired decisions
  • Feel calm
  • Improve your sleep quality
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Increase mental and emotional resilience
  • Balance energy levels

We all go through times in our life when things aren’t going well. Where every move we make seems off. You are probably aware that your alignment is off, but can’t quite figure out how to nudge it back to the right place. Simple and effective breathing is a great tool to use anytime you’re feeling off. 

Balancing the nervous system is one of the many benefits of breathwork. Helping you to identify the areas in your life that are out of alignment in your evolutionary experience. 

Below are 3 breathing exercises to help you breathe your way back into alignment. 

Balanced Breathing

Balanced Breathing is performed by breathing in and out in equal parts. 

  1. Begin by sitting in a comfortable cross-legged position on the floor. Or, if you prefer, lying down. Be sure legs are not crossed, but you may like them elevated. 
  2. Close your eyes and bring your attention to the tip of your nose. Notice the natural rhythm of your breath.
  3. After a few rounds of natural breathing, begin to slowly count to 4 or 5 as you inhale.
  4. Take a moment at the top of the inhale before slowly counting out to 4 or 5 as you exhale.
  5. Take a moment at the bottom of the exhale before returning to the inhale
  6. Continue in this pattern, breathing in and out slowly to the same count with a pause at both the top and bottom of each breath.

By breathing in and out in equal time you are balancing out the nervous system. This helps bring you up if you’re feeling low and helps guide you down if you are too anxious. 

Balance is the key to many breathing practices. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Another great example of equal part breathing that helps nudge us back into alignment is Alternate Nostril Breathing. In this pattern, you will breathe in and out through alternating nostrils.

Before getting into the technique, let’s chat about hand placement. 

  • Look at your right hand and fold the first two fingers (the pointer and middle) into the palm.
  • Use your pinky to help guide the ring figure up to your best degree.
  • Your hand will look similar to the hang loose hand gesture. 
  • Keeping your hand in this mudra you will perform the technique.

This is best done sitting in a comfortable seated position. Either on the floor or in a chair with your feet firmly placed on the floor and your back free from support.

  1. Place your left hand on your left knee.
  2. Exhale completely and bring your right hand up to your nose, closing the right nostril with your thumb.
  3. Inhale through your left nostril and pinch both nostrils closed at the top of the inhale.
  4. Open your right nostril by removing your thumb and exhale out the right nostril only.
  5. Stay here and inhale in the right nostril while your ring and pinky finger press closed the left.
  6. Pinch both nostrils at the top of the inhale.
  7. Release your ring and pinky finger and exhale out the left. 
  8. That is one round. 
  9. Continue in this cycle for 10 rounds or 5 minutes. Always ending the practice by exhaling out the left nostril.

Focus on keeping your breath slow, smooth, and continuous; nothing labored.

Abdominal Hollowing

Abdominal hollowing is the more active of the three described here. I recommend doing this one laying down so you don’t overwork your back muscles while actively pushing out the breath.

  1. Lie on your back with the souls of your feet planted about hip-width distance apart.
  2. Begin breathing in a slow and controlled manner.
  3. After a few rounds, activate the breath by deeply breathing in for a five-count.
  4. Exhale all the air out of your lungs as you push your belly button all the way back towards your spine. There is no count on the exhale, but it should be at least 2 to 3 counts longer than the inhale.
  5. With your abdominal area completely hollowed out, hold empty for 5 counts.
  6. Repeat this cycle of a triangle (breathing, inhale, exhale, hold) for 10 rounds or roughly 3 minutes.
  7. After the last active round, go back to your natural breathing pattern before moving on.

Abdominal hollowing works into your underworked deep abdominal muscles. Making it beneficial for those suffering from lower back pain. As an option, you can drape something over your belly to add extra pressure to the exhale. This is helpful because it assists in flushing out all the stagnant air trapped at the bottom of your lungs. A pillow, yoga block, or light sandbag all work great. 

Taking the time to breathe consciously as a daily practice has the power to move your life from a place of chaos to one aligned to your inner calling. 

We All Face Challenges

Working with all kinds of people in helping them reconnect to their breath, I have come to understand that these simple breathing patterns can have a profound impact on one’s life. Like meditation, it gives you an opportunity to let go of the mind-chatter and reflect within. 

I cannot tell you the number of times students come up to me and thank me for helping them to sleep better or breathe through a difficult emotion. Although it is a true honor to share these practices, I did nothing to help them that they couldn’t do on their own. 

Sometimes getting in alignment means having someone like me to guide you through the work. Giving you an opportunity to sink deep into a practice while a guide does all the counting, observing, and keeps you on track. This is part of re-connecting to your alignment. 

If you are interested in going deeper with your breath practice I am here to assist. Contact me at mary@heart-lightstudios.com to find out more. 

Ring True with the Nature Inside Yourself and Say Goodbye to Mental Instability

Your Mental Health is Counting on You to Seek Within

Gun violence continues to rise and our ability to handle uncertainty is getting shorter by the day. In 2020 there were over 43,000 gun-related deaths in the US according to Gun Violence Archive. Halfway through 2021 and we have already passed the 24,000 marks for gun fatalities. Gun violence hasn’t been this high in over two decades. 

It’s easy to look around and see why this is happening. We are living our lives in a pressure cooker and the heat keeps going up. It’s impossible to turn around without hearing the latest in world drama. 

  • Our oceans are on fire
  • Our forests are on fire
  • Our communities are on fire

And this has just become a normal summer happening for those of us living on the West Coast. Fossil fuels are being sucked out of the earth and are building up greenhouse gases that are changing our climate. Mother Earth is dying and this is just one of the underlying layers that many don’t have time to even consider thinking about. 

Too many are wrapped up in their own life drama, unaware of the pressure building from Earth herself. Thinking their problems are separate and more important than the whole. 

As a collective, we are watching the entire world climate change, and that goes far beyond the physical. 

Mentally we are Waking Up

We are tired of hearing about “The American Dream” and wish to wake up to a world where it was possible. Instead, we live in a world where 75% of adults are on some kind of altering substance at any given moment. A world where most feel it is necessary to numb out just to make it through the day. 

  • Every day we have a new “2 minutes of hate”. 
  • Every day a new enemy to point our rage at. 
  • Every day a reminder of how “they” are holding us down. 

We wake up thinking about our worries. We all spend our days worried about our job security, our mortgage/rent, our bills, our relationships, what the president did, and what our racist uncle might have said online. It’s a lot. Too much. It leaves us broken with no time to think about our health or our mental wellness. 

You might even think “how dare I take time to do such things when the world is falling apart!” To many, mental health feels like a luxury that their life wasn’t designed for. 

We are so used to self-sacrifice that taking 15 minutes a day to breathe seems like a waste of precious time. We have been programmed to be busy all the time and never look within for the answers. 

We have come to a standstill in our culture. We have been divided, yet we are programmed for belonging. Humans are meant to connect, care, support, and interact. 

The more medication we take and the more screen-driven we become, the more separate we too become from each other and ourselves. On some level, we all feel this. Why else are we continuing to shoot each other and ourselves at such a high rate? 

It’s time to speak up about our needs and find that we are not alone but connect through the burdens of life we all collectively carry. When one has the courage to speak up, others will follow. 

The Power of the Vulnerable

Our hearts have become so guarded that we are beginning to crack as a nation under the silence of mental instabilities. To the highly intuitive there is an unspoken nature of things gone terribly wrong. The vulnerability you feel is your power, yet we treat it as a weakness. This is keeping us in silos with nowhere to turn. 

The time has come to override these standards and uncover our power. Get creative and help yourself and others to breathe deep. 

  • Dance like you don’t care how you look
  • Sing/ chant / hum until you find your voice
  • Swim in the open sea
  • Help your neighbor /stranger / friend
  • Cry in front of someone you trust.
  • Write your local politicians / newspapers / or radio stations
  • Walk amongst the trees

No one can express the need inside your heart. Be confidently vulnerable and share your spirit. Shout it from the rooftops and let the haters hate. Those who connect to your spirit will glide through the cracks and find you. And isn’t that what we all want? To be seen by those who love and care for us? Even if it’s just you at the party, go for it.

Your mental health is too important. Your heart’s too big to keep chained up in armor. Give yourself permission to shine. You may be the light that heals another. 

We are all looking for something to connect us. We all want something bigger than ourselves to help ease our worried souls. Everyone is searching, everyone. 

It’s Time to Get Honest with Ourselves

It’s time to get honest with yourself. It’s time to follow your inner calling. It’s time to share your fears, your dreams, your doubts, your love. Ring true with the nature inside yourself and say goodbye to mental instability. You say goodbye to uncertainty when you are in tune with your inner truth. 

No more looking on the outside. Your mental health is counting on you to seek within. Let this be your sign to do that. 

By healing yourself you set out waves of healing to all those you come in contact with. When you breathe out hope and inner connection, others breathe that in. We can uplift as a world by taking time to reach within. Fill your cup so it might flow out unto others.