It is easy to take breathing for granted, because we don't have to think about it. Only when we do are we reminded of its importance, and most times, the reminder is forced. Congestion, shortness of breath, and choking are all poignant indicators of what happens when the fuel line to the engine is cut. Most people don't like being reminded of their mortality, let alone feeling they can't climb a flight of stairs without keeling over.
Breath is life, and life has the potential to be rewarding, relaxing and easy.
The same goes for meditation. Instead of considering it a laborious process of forcefully clearing the mind, try focusing awareness through non-judgemental observation. For many, the simple act of following the inhale and exhale works better than any practice of visualization.
Introducing the Full Yogic Breath
When breathing with deep mindfulness, a comfortable seat is paramount to success. You're more than welcome to rock a full lotus if that's sustainable, but sticking feathers up one's asana does not a mayur make (yoga joke). Be honest with those hips and knees. The most important thing to take into consideration is maintaining a tall, erect spine. Avoid hunching as much as possible.
If you've got tight hips, sitting "normally" with crossed legs on the floor is going to make your legs tired and your back curve. Help yourself out by sitting on a yoga block or some reasonable proximation: rolled up beach towel, throw pillow, two phone books, a six-pack with a flip-flop on top. Whatever the choice, make sure you're comfortable. We'll be here for a while.
Gently cross your legs while perched atop this yoga block. With the pelvis raised above the knees, your hip flexors can relax and aid in finding that tall spine with greater ease. This pro tip even applies to seasoned yogis. When I'm getting ready to sit mindfully for extended periods of time, I set myself up with a success cushion.
Alternatively, try sitting in virasana pose with the knees together, the feet just outside the hips, and your butt sitting atop a block placed between the ankles. Many appreciate this posture because it's easy to visualize and create a tall spine with little pressure placed on the hips. Your feet and shins may get a bit tired, so be sure to do this on a blanket or yoga mat. Let's do this!
Full Yogic Breath time