Say hi to your most reliable and constant friend throughout your life. It's there for you during the good times and the bad. It's your breath, and it's a lot more than something you just do without thinking ...
Take a moment to feel the presence of the breath inside you!
Vincent van Gogh wrote, "First of all the twinkling stars vibrated, but remained motionless in space, then all the celestial globes were united into one series of movements ... firmament and planets both disappeared, but the mighty breath which gives life to all things and in which all is bound remained."
"In yoga, the breath is referred to as your 'prana' or life force!"
Think of yourself as a child, playing with exuberance, inhaling with unconstrained joy, resulting in boundless energy. Over time, as we grow older and with the arrival of daily challenges and responsibilities, our breathing become more restrained and our bodies forget to breathe freely and naturally as a child. Today I'll re-introduce you to your breath; your most reliable and constant friend throughout your life!
Habitually breathing high into the chest, breathing too fast and breathing shallowly deprives us of our prana or life force. It is not too hard to understand why as all these breathing habits mean less oxygen rich blood flowing through our bodies and hence our cells are less able to optimally produce the energy that gives us that life force.
So, what to do? Donna Farhi, in her book The Breathing Book points out that breathing is one of the simplest things in the world. We breathe in, we breathe out. When we breathe with real freedom we neither grasp for or hold on to the breath.
"Given the simplicity of breathing, one would think it was the easiest thing in the world!"
However, this is not necessarily the case based on the number of unhappy and unhealthy people in the world. To become a vessel for the breath is to live life without trying to control, grasp, or push away. She argues that the process of breathing is the most accurate metaphor we have for the way that we personally approach life, how we live our lives and how we react to the inevitable changes that life brings.
In my previous blog posts, I mentioned the impact of grief in my body, mind and life in general. I remember the stiffness in my body, the inflexibility of my mind and the tight, shallowness of my breathing. Through yoga, I learnt the importance of the breath and I remember making a conscious effort to become aware of my breath. I still often invite my breath during inhalation to expand all the way to the bottom of my lungs, expanding the sides of the ribcage to the top of my collarbone. Using and expanding the whole lung.
This was, and still is, particularly useful to calm my nervous system, energise my body and lift my mood on days that I feel low. This breathing is influenced by my yoga practice!
Donna argues for the more natural, unconscious breathing practice which she refers to as the 'essential' breath and to make that part of our daily lives. According to Donna there is a spectrum of breathing habits caused by psychological fears and issues that are driving poor breathing habits. At one end of the spectrum is the unconscious, involuntary breath and at the other end is breathing that is controlled and regulated by the will, such as classic breathing exercises done by yogis. The 'essential' breath lies between these two extremes.
"Take a moment to feel the presence of the breath inside you!"
Just let the breath do what it will. Slowly begin to rest your attention on the exhalation, effortlessly leaving your body. Notice the momentary pause at the end of the exhalation. There is no thought and no movement. Simply relax and let it happen.
Trust that the next breath can arise without you needing to 'grab' for it. The new breath automatically arises out of this pause. The inhalation is born out of the stillness of the pause, and the exhalation dissolves into it.
Think of the pause as a well, a place of strength, a resource that you can draw from whenever you need it; a reliable and constant friend that is always there whenever you need it most.
If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more about breath and how to improve your prana through Yoga, do call me on 07768 314962, leave a comment below or click the Messenger icon in the bottom right of your browser to chat.
Anne Marie completed an 18-month yoga teacher training through Yoga Campus in London in February 2020 to share the magical benefits of yoga with others.
She also recently completed a PTSD and Yoga4Health certifications through The Minded Institute to help people dealing with trauma and those who want to start a healthier lifestyle through yoga.
Helping business owners to create a supportive working environment that will have a positive impact on their business. The benefits, that flow from the holistic and systemic approach from yoga, will have a rippling effect on the health of all employees, their families, their communities and all stakeholders from the bottom up and equally from the top down.
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