27 Sep Breath of life
Our lifetime companion, our lifelong nourisher.
It feels simple to breathe – and it’s often automatic.
We breathe while we sleep.
We gasp or choke with sudden emotion.
We share breath with those very close to us.
What do we find when we tune into the breath?
We know that breath is essential to life. It is the form by which we bring freshly oxygenated blood to all the cells of our body, and rid our body of toxic build up of wastes.
In Patanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga, a whole component is dedicated to Breath. Pranayama is the movement of energy around the body through observing and manipulating the breath.
Take a moment now, to observe how you are breathing. Did you just change your breath? Perhaps breathe a little deeper, slower? In those pauses when we become aware of breath, we are finely tuning into our own sense of being alive, in this very moment. We have a shortcut to presence, that magical, elusive attention on our current experience.
Here are some ways you can add a fresh breath to your life.
- build it into your day. maybe with phone alarms. maybe once every hour as you go through your day, you can pause, and inhale deeply. notice the effect.
- if you have a meditation or yoga practice, build the breath in right before. If you are a beginner, try square breathing: inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 5, exhale for 6 seconds. Repeat when the next breath comes to you, and do not force anything. For me, it only takes 4 rounds to completely change my frame of mind. If advanced, you might try nadi shodhana.
- when you exercise, breathe intentionally. If you enjoy weight lifting or hatha yoga, hopefully this is already part of your practice. In yoga, when we lengthen, stretch, expand – we generally inhale. When we twist, fold forward, or relax deeper, we exhale. When lifting weights, we brace our core by inhaling and holding our core tight and our breath, and exhale as we lift, or once we have lifted. If you do rhythmic movements like running or cycling, you will know that finding a breath pattern that works for you is so important.
I hope this has been an inspiration (!) for you.
Let me know how you go.