Sunday, February 19, 2012
A lot has been talked about lately regarding breathing. Actually, it's been talked about for thousands of years, but just now people are paying attention. Breath work (or as it's referred to in the practice of yoga - pranayama) has been something that many societies have been practicing consciously for centuries. What doctors and scientists are just now learning is that you can do a lot with your breath.
Without getting into too much detail, your breath can control your nervous system - calming it or revving it up, depending on the breath work you're practicing. If you've ever taken a yoga class, almost always your guide (or teacher) will start you off in the class by connecting with your breath this helps to center you and and calms you down. In a high energy yoga class such as Kundilini, your teacher will lead you with "Breath of Fire" which is a high energy breath and can generate heat within you - thus allowing you to be ready for a higher energy practice.
Using breath work in your everyday life is a recommendation that many in the medical field are finally making to their patients. Often times a more integrative doctor will ask someone to learn how to meditate or focus on their breath before they recommend any medications for some of their patients who have mild anxiety, whereas just a few years ago, a script would have been the answer.
Breathing seems so easy and natural, and it is. When we first come into this world, we breathe just fine - inhales inflating the belly and exhales compressing it. But as we age and let little things pile up on us, we become more anxious, more stressed and we are too busy to breathe. We actually hold our breath! We end up breathing these short, shallow breaths which can impair our body's functionality. We don't get the proper amount of oxygen into our bodies and thus we are not properly oxygenating our brains or vital organs. Many feel this is why we end up with disease or memory loss.
Take a moment right now to notice your breath - place one hand on the lower belly - feel if it's expanding as you inhale and compressing as you exhale. Place the other hand on your heart. Do you feel the rise and fall of your chest. Work on this breathing technique every day until you can notice the belly rise on the inhale and compress on the exhale. Take a few minutes a day to center yourself and to help calm down your nervous system. Take a few minutes to just breathe.