Breath. It’s somewhat important right? Learning to breathe sounds so simple and yet it’s actually more challenging than many of us realise.
In today’s fast paced society, many of us have forgotten how to breathe. Yes, we breathe automatically, but more often than not this breath is short and shallow. Unfortunately, short and shallow breathing can lead to problems such as increased heart rate and adrenal levels, feelings of dizziness, not to mention the limited amount of fresh oxygen within the body which is necessary for healthy cell reproduction. These additional stressors can wreak havoc in the body, leading to all sorts of illness and disease. Considering the breath is something which can be under our command, should we consciously choose for it to be, then why don’t we bring more attention to it?
The beauty of asana practice is it can teach us to breathe correctly. By learning to steady our breath, drawing long and deep inhalations followed by controlled and steady exhalations, a practitioner will notice they are not only more present in the asana (they are practicing at the time), but the asana becomes more effortless. You feel ‘lighter’ in a sense. By learning to breathe correctly, we are releasing this stress within the body which gives us freedom within ourselves. Self limiting boundaries can be pushed and exceeded. Test it and see. Hold you breath for as long as you can and answer me this, “did you feel relaxed?” The likely answer is “no”. But, notice as you release the breath and steady it how calm you then feel. By controlling your breath you have brought deep relaxation to all internal processes, which can only lead to life giving health benefits as a result.
The benefits of the breath are endless, but to give an example, regular practice of yoga and pranayama (which I will talk about another time but is essentially breath control techniques) encourages healthy cell development, reduces blood pressure, controls adrenal levels and as such will enable you to manage stress far more effectively. Think about how differently your life could look if you could bring stress under control… With patience and commitment to your practice, I assure this is possible to achieve.
Living such crazy busy lifestyles without remembering to stop and just ‘breathe’ means we are, in essence, creating that uncomfortable feeling of holding our breath, all day every day. By taking just five minutes a day to sit with closed eyes and just notice the breath, drawing deep breaths in and releasing them slowly, not only will our bodies thank us for it in the long term, but our overall feeling of health will skyrocket with effects being noticed instantly. The power of the breath is undeniably amazing and something which should not be overlooked.
Where to from here? Find a quiet space in your home - somewhere you feel comfortable which could be in the lounge, the garden, a spare bedroom - and commit just 5 minutes a day to being in that place. Sitting in a position with your spine uplifted, just notice your breath - inhaling and exhaling through your nostrils. Take this time to notice what’s going on within the body and just be present with it. In time, you will notice tension within the body will begin to melt away and your awareness of self will deepen significantly. Also, don’t hesitate to do a few stretches afterward. You don’t need to be in a Yoga Shala to practice yoga. Listen to your body and then move it however feels natural to you.
It would be great to hear about your experiences with the breath - how has deep breathing helped you? Are you someone who tends to forget to take deep breaths? And why do you think that is? Feel free to share your comments below. Together we can support each other to bring energy back into our lives.