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Breathing is Life...So Let's Enhance It!

Breathing is Life...So Let's Enhance It!

On average we breathe at least 20,000 breaths per day. And both yogic wisdom and modern science have linked the quality of our breath to the quality of our physical health, our mental and emotional well-being and the resiliency of our nervous system to respond well to stimulus.


Beginning a breath practice, known in yoga as pranayama, has many benefits. Here are a few:


  1. Stress Reduction: Pranayama techniques, such as deep breathing and alternate nostril breathing, activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels. This can lead to a calmer mind and improved emotional well-being.
  2. Improved Respiratory Function: Regular practice of pranayama enhances lung capacity, strengthens respiratory muscles, and improves overall breathing efficiency. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with respiratory conditions like asthma.
  3. Enhanced Mental Clarity: Deep, conscious breathing increases oxygen supply to the brain, improving cognitive function, focus, and mental clarity. It can also help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression by calming the mind and promoting a sense of inner peace.
  4. Balanced Energy Levels: Pranayama techniques aim to balance the flow of prana (life force energy) throughout the body's energy channels, known as nadis. This balance of energy can result in increased vitality, improved concentration, and a heightened sense of well-being.
  5. Supports Overall Health: Regular practice of pranayama can have a positive impact on various physiological functions, including digestion, circulation, and immune system function. By optimizing these bodily systems, pranayama contributes to overall health and vitality.

Incorporating pranayama into your daily routine can yield significant benefits for both your physical and mental health, promoting a harmonious balance between mind, body, and spirit.

So how to get started? Keep it simple, and just begin. Here are some simple techniques that are considered safe and accessible for just about anyone. You can choose one of the practices below OR follow the full flow of practice.

Start gradual and build your breath practice over time—if you ever start to feel anxious when working with your breath, relax back into your natural breathing, and re-engage the practice when you feel ready. Maybe that same day, or maybe the following day. Soon you will find you look forward to the chance to simply breathe and be, AND that centered and calm feeling you have is easier to return to throughout the day.

  1. Find a Comfortable Position: Sit in a comfortable position, either on the floor with crossed legs or on a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Keep your spine erect but relaxed, shoulders rolled back, and hands resting on your knees or in your lap.
  2. Focus on Your Breath: Begin by bringing your awareness to your breath. Notice the natural rhythm of your breath without trying to control it. Feel the sensations of the breath as it enters and leaves your body.
  3. Deep Abdominal Breathing (Diaphragmatic Breathing): Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to expand as you fill your lungs with air. Exhale slowly through your nose, feeling your abdomen contract. Repeat this deep breathing pattern for several rounds, focusing on the rise and fall of your abdomen with each breath.
  4. Equal Breathing (Sama Vritti): Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four. Then exhale through your nose for a count of four, ensuring that the duration of your inhalation and exhalation is equal. Continue this pattern for several rounds, maintaining a smooth and steady rhythm.
  5. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana): Close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale deeply through your left nostril. At the top of your inhalation, close your left nostril with your right ring finger, releasing your right thumb, and exhale through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril, then close it with your right thumb, release your left nostril, and exhale through your left nostril. Continue this alternate nostril breathing pattern for several rounds, focusing on the flow of breath through each nostril.
  6. End with Relaxation: After completing your pranayama practice, take a few moments to rest in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and allow your breath to return to its natural rhythm. Notice any sensations or changes in your body and mind, and simply observe without judgment.
  7. Practice Regularly: Aim to practice pranayama for at least 5-10 minutes each day, gradually increasing the duration as you become more comfortable with the techniques. Consistency is key to experiencing the full benefits of pranayama.

Remember to approach your pranayama practice with patience, kindness, and mindfulness, allowing yourself to fully experience the present moment with each breath.