FAITHful Fitness FRIDAY: Time for a BREATHER!

The BREATH is essential  to our physical health.  When I studied the breath as a part of my Pilates training, I discovered many interesting things.  First, did you know that breathing is one of two activities that the body can do EITHER completely voluntarily or involuntarily? (The other one is eye blinking!)  Also, the breath not only provides us with the oxygen needed to survive, but if done properly, it aids us in engaging the core which can help protect and support us through our daily movements.  Another interesting thing was is that we can actually train our breath to engage the core as well as to be slower, longer, deeper, quieter (ideal breathing pattern for effective and efficient breathing).  We can do this through focused breathing practice which, in turn, will impact our ability to have these positive qualities in our involuntary breathing.  As I studied all of this, I began to ponder the idea of the breath prayer as a means to train our minds to meditate constantly on Scripture.    By incorporating short breath prayers during the inhale and exhale processes of Pilates or Yoga exercises, we are voluntarily aligning God’s word with our breathing.  When we do this, we are more likely to have His Word fill our minds as our breath fills our lungs during our involuntary breathing throughout the day!    I have posted other information about breath prayers (See “Take a Deep Breath” post), but wanted to share an actual routine you can use to incorporate prayer into your Pilates practice:

Pilates Movement                                                                                                       Inhale………..Exhale (of the Breath Prayer)

Toe Raises/ Heel Lifts                                                                                                               I stand………….beneath the Cross

Chair Pose                                                                                                                                 Abide in me……………I abide in You

Prayer Pose to Table Top (or “Mountain Top” to Plank)                                                 Your power…………..Moves in me

Swan                                                                                                                                           God of Beauty………….beloved One

Heel Beats                                                                                                                                      Be-ing……………Be-ing

Roll Downs                                                                                                                                   Strengthen me……….Encourage me

Hundred (hold pose)                                                                                                                     I receive……………..I give

Boat Pose (Sit bone balance/legs in table top)                                                                      Held in Your Mercy….Held in Your Love

Chest Lift                                                                                                                                 I bow down…………You life me up (*new prayer)

Chest Lift w/ Rotation                                                                                                             Father God………….I turn to you

*for more information about these Pilates movements, go to:      http://pilates.about.com/od/pilatesexercises/Free_Pilates_Exercise_Instructions.htm

More on how to create your own Breath Prayers:

BREATH PRAYERS are a modern adaptation of the ancient prayer of the heart. We create them to express our deepest needs. They help us keep God in the foreground amidst our daily living and clarify our relationship with the holy.   Most breath prayers are six to eight syllables and fit easily into one inhale and exhale. Some examples are “Help me rest; give me peace,” “Make clear my way, O Holy One,” “Out of darkness, into light,” or “Fill me, Spirit, with your love.”

– Jane E. Vennard The Breath Prayer  ( excerpt taken from the UPPER ROOM daily devotional)

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