Recently, at a social function i was unexpectedly and pleasantly surprised. My wife and i were talking to somebody we had just met and eventually this person mentioned that she liked yoga. I asked her about her practice and could not believe my ears when she said that her favorite aspect of yoga was Pranayama, the breathing awareness practice, and that she practiced her pranayama exercises 6 days a week for an hour each day. I found her response truly inspiring because it is quite unusual for me to meet people with a consistent pranayama practice.
It seems rather obvious that our breath is essential to our life. Some of the benefits from breathing consciously include:
- Breathing keeps us alive
- Breathing can help us focus
- Breathing can help us release stress
- Breathing can be energizing
- Breathing can be relaxing
- Breathing can help relieve pain
- Breathing can help us be present
- Breathing massages your organs
- Breathing can enhance your mood
- Breathing can strengthen the heart and lungs
With so many benefits, i would think that more and more people would be interested in tapping into this FREE resource for improving our quality of life, well-being and overall health.
In yoga, in my opinion, the two single most important elements in the practice are awareness and breathing. Yoga without one or the other is robbed of the tools that make yoga powerful and transformational.
Unfortunately, very often i hear from students:&lquot;i really don’t know how to breathe&rquot;. Also, often during class i notice that not everybody is clearly attuned to their own breathing process, and ability. I know that making the breath the keystone of my yoga practice, has had a powerful effect on the quality of my practice and on the quality of my life, attention and energy level.
If you are reading this right now, you are breathing well enough to stay alive. The question is, are you breathing efficiently and to your full capacity?
You can test your breathing awareness pretty easily:
Observe your breath without changing the way you are breathing at this moment notice:
- Is your breath continuous?
- Is your breath steady?
- Do your exhalations empty your lungs fully?
- Is your breath smooth?
If you answered yes to all the questions, it is likely that you have a good level of what i call Breathing Intelligence.
If you answered no to any or all of the questions, i would submit that you can benefit from simple and easy breathing exercises.
For instance, you can try these simple ideas for a few minutes each:
In a comfortable position, relax your belly and allow your belly to move freely in response to each inhalation and each exhalation. It is important to remain relaxed and to breathe without forcing or agitation.
Keeping your breath relaxed, try to minimize the interruptions or pauses between the inhalation and the exhalation.
After a few minutes of trying the exercises above, notice if your mind got a little bit more relaxed and if you feel calmer and with less tension. I you found these simple ideas helpful, i would like to invite you to give yourself the treat of conscious breathing for a few minutes every day and notice the effect these simple, free exercises have on you, your mood and attitude.
There are other easy breathing exercises you might enjoy:
To increase your breathing intelligence, you may also be interested in attending the upcoming workshops:
BREATH FOR HEALTH & VITALITY: Introduction to Pranayama 1 & 2
For more information and to sign up:
Yoga Etc, 727-644-4554, 3338 Tyrone Blvd. St Petersburg, FL 33710