Do you know how important your breath is?
Have you ever heard this term? Some of you will nod, whereas others will struggle to say the word. About 12 years ago I was the latter, and then I began my yoga journey shortly after my first son was born and what I have learned since then has deeply affected my life.
The simple definition is:
Prana = breath, respiration, life, vitality, wind, energy, and strength - “life force”
Yama = length, expansion, stretching and restraint
Therefore, pranayama means to control or extend the breath. It is the life force that we all have inside of us and we can choose how to use or abuse it. A few years back I remember watching a documentary on snipers that showed how they were able to so accurately hit their targets by controlling their breath, which in turn slowed their pulse and allowed them to listen and feel. To accurately hit the target, they would pull the trigger in between heart beats, because of something as undetectable as a heart beat to the normal person, is enough to misalign their shot.
Now, I know this is a weird example, considering what they do, but it outlines how we can learn to control our breath and in turn control our whole body and how it functions and responds. This is why the breath is so important in Yoga Culture. Many yogis are able to stimulate their autonomic nervous system and manipulate their heartbeat, digestion, metabolism and even their body temperature.
Alternate Nostril Yoga Breathing
This is why breathing and yoga go hand in hand. For most, breathing is just an automatic reflex that we don’t even think about, but for a yogi, understanding the connection between the body, mind, and breath is essential.
Did you ever wonder why you’re told to take 10 deep breaths before you are about to have a meltdown or freak out? It’s because there is such a strong connection between the mind and body through the breath, that it can alleviate stress, anxiety and even pain.
Pranayama has 3 components
- Inhalation - the breath in
- Exhalation - the breath out
- Retention - holding the breath
There are many great breathing techniques that you can use to help increase your mind-body connection, alleviate stress, anxiety, and pain, speed up and slow down your pulse, energize and uplift you, as well as heat up or cool down your body. Being able to learn these techniques and utilize them when needed will increase your overall well-being and help equip you with strategies to combat everyday life stressors.
- Simple Thoracic & Diaphragmatic Breathing
- Ujjayi Breath
- Bhastrika Breath
- Kapalabhati Breath
- Sitali Breath
- Alternate Nostril Breathing
- Bee Humming Breath
So why is is it important to breathe?
I mentioned a few of the amazing benefits above, such as increasing your mind-body connection, alleviating stress, anxiety, and pain, speeding up and slowing down your pulse, energizing and uplifting your being, as well as heating or cooling your body. Here are just a few more fabulous reasons to breathe:
- Detoxify your body & getting rid of the CO2 build up
- Releasing tension
- Massages your organs
- Aids in digestion
- Boosting your Immune System by enriching your nutrient and vitamin metabolism
- Strengthens your lungs and increases their capacity
Now that you understand a little better why you should breathe properly and how I hope you will take time every day to STOP and Just BREATHE!
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