Updated: Jan 1
Stop what you’re doing and bring awareness to how you’re breathing. Are you taking short, quick breaths? Long, slow inhales and exhales? Are you breathing at all – holding your breath? How we breathe greatly affects our emotional, mental and physical state. There is such a simplicity to breathing and it’s a powerful tool in supporting our health and wellness needs. So, today, my Friends, we’re going to talk about the wonders of breathing!
“Breath is the link between mind and body.” – Dan Brule
Learning to breathe properly is one of the most challenging aspects my new Yoga and Personal Training clients learn. As I start to teach clients to slow down and take deeper breaths, they usually respond that they are feeling lightheaded or nauseous. That’s the brain getting more oxygen! But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
In Yoga we refer to breath as Prana or Pranayama. Basically it means breath, life force, energy, vitality – you get the picture. Prana is the life force that resides within and around us in all living things. Everything has Prana from ants to trees to animals to water. Prana is energy. Think about the act of breathing as moving energy (Prana) in and out of your body.
There is positive energy and negative energy. Positive energy generates positive energy and negative energy generates negative energy. That being said, we can breathe in positive or negative energy. Which do you want in your body? For example, you receive some unsavory news that upsets you. Your trigger reaction is to become upset, take short, quick breaths that increase your heart rate. Your blood pressure starts to rise and you become ‘heated’. You just got a negative reaction by creating negative energy. Take the same example but change the reaction. You take pause, close your eyes and take deep, long and slow breaths. The result will be quite different.
“You are where you need to be. Just breathe.” – Buddha
We live in a stressful and anxious world. You may not be interested in practicing Yoga or meditating, however learning to be more mindful and aware of how you’re breathing could be a game changer for you. We call the practice of slowing down and practicing just breathing . . . meditating. There have been studies shown that mindful breathing can greatly reduce stress, anxiety and how the body reacts. There is a link between the body and the mind.
Creating a practice for mindful breathing is simple – you just have to do it. Here are some easy tips for starting your practice:
* Find a quiet space.
* Get into a comfortable position, either seated or lying down. Support your body however you need (i.e. blanket, back support, bolster, etc.).
* Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Just notice how you are breathing. Don’t judge or critique. Just be aware.
* If your mind wonders (and it will), nudge it back to being aware of your breathing.
* When you feel ready, start to take deeper and slower inhales, followed by equally deep and slow exhales. Count to four or five slowly on the inhale, and then four or five on the exhale.
* Try it for five minutes every day when you wake. Note how you feel. Add more time as you see fit for your lifestyle.
* If you become frustrated or stressed during the day, take three to five deep breaths.
Our breath is a power tool in supporting our health and wellness goals. It is the glue between mind, body and soul. I challenge you to practice the power of breath every day and see what happens.