The morning is an ideal time to practise pranayama (prana meaning life force and ayana meaning to extend or draw out), before your mind has the chance to start worrying too much about the day ahead. When you wake up with morning anxiety, focused breathing is a simple technique to help stop any kind of irrational thoughts and negative feelings in their tracks, preventing them from developing into a full-blown bout of stress that’ll stay with you throughout the day. The following exercise is designed to ease you into each day and prepare you to cope with whatever experiences and obstacles may arise. Meditating in the morning instils not only a sense of calm but also an established sense of awareness and consciousness, which in many ways will help you experience more deeply, and feel more present in each moment.
Basic Breath Observation
1. Stand, sit or lie in a comfortable position, preferably in a quiet and undisturbed environment.
Rest your hands on your knees if sitting on the floor, or by your side if standing, sitting on a chair
or lying down.
2. With your eyes open or closed and breathing in and out through your nose, become aware of
the rhythm of your breath. Is it short and shallow? Is it deep and steady? Are you breathing into
your chest or shoulders, or are you breathing fully into your abdominal area, and/or your back?
There is no right or wrong way to breathe, just notice it, and begin to acknowledge and distinguish
between your inhalations and your exhalations. Is one longer than the other? Are you filling
and emptying the lungs fully before one breath ends and another begins? Sit and notice the
rhythm of your breath, relaxing your shoulders, your neck and your head. If you feel your breath
predominantly in your chest area, bring a hand to your lower abdominal, to bring the attention
and the breath down into the abdomen area.
3. Stay like this for a minimum of 5 minutes, or for as long as you can or have time for. It may seem
simple, but the real challenge lies in your focus and your ability to keep awareness on the breath,
to calm and regulate it, and away from the thoughts of your lively mind. Inevitably – especially in
the morning with an untouched to-do list and the whole day ahead of you – thoughts will enter
your mind, and when they do, accept them and add them to a ‘save for later’ folder somewhere
in your mind. You don’t need them right now. Bring the attention back to the breath, and keep
this rhythm of accepting and letting go of irrelevant thoughts flowing with your breath.
4. Bring the practice to a close when you physically feel more even throughout your body and more
open across the chest and heart area, and when your breathing is more balanced and settled.
Blink your eyes open and perhaps bring your hands into prayer, another mudra of choice or simply
on your knees, and sit for a moment to readjust.
More morning rituals in Danielle Copperman’s Well Being.