Breathing. We do it all the time without even thinking about it. It is a physiological process, something we were born doing in fact we’re doing right now; but this is not what I am referring to when I mention the breath. In our normal day to day we are taking shallow breaths, and shallow breathing isn’t the kind of breathing that contribute to feeding our soul. What I’m talking about and what I have learned to practice is how to breathe consciously. This is another thing my amazing yoga instructor was the first to introduce me to. K tells us during our meditations that, “Without food, our body would last maybe weeks. Without water we might last days, but without breath, we would only survive seconds” (maybe a couple minutes if you’re good). During our meditation sessions we aren’t just breathing as a basic survival instinct, what we do is we take slow and deep conscious breaths. A conscious breath is one you are aware of, that you pay actual attention to and that brings you into the present moment. K forces us to focus on where in our body we’re breathing to, as we pay attention to and follow how deep that breath is reaching within us. She asks us to focus on the pace we are breathing and to concentrate on slowing that pace right down, even counting each breath, inhaling for 1-2-3-4 seconds and exhaling for 1-2-3-4 seconds.
Conscious breathing is helping me in so many ways. When I meditate, focusing on how I’m breathing really gives me something to concentrate on. Following each breath on its journey through my body brings my attention inward and away from than the millions of thoughts running through my mind. It makes me more aware of myself, my mind and body in the present moment. Deep breathing is also known to relieve pain, which is why we exercise our breathing before we begin practicing yoga. We use our deep breathes to go deeper with our stretches. It allows me to push myself in each yoga stretch to dig deeper, as I exhale all the tension out of my body. I also use deep breaths to help calm me down when I feel like I’m ready to erupt. By bringing my attention to my breathing and actually counting my breaths, I distract myself from whatever is irritating me. Taking this moment to slow down my breathing makes me less reactive, as it brings down what can be an all of a sudden pounding speeding heart rate. It halts my emotions from taking over and making me do and or say something I will regret. Sometimes it gives me that just let it go moment. This practice is helping to strengthen my relationships with others, making me a little less likely to antagonize those close to me by taking this breath before I think to speak – practice makes perfect right?
There are also some health benefits involved with breathing consciously. When we breathe deep into our lungs we increase blood flow which in turn increases energy and stamina. More oxygen reaches the digestive organs, helping them work more efficiently. When we breathe deeper into our organs our heart doesn’t have to work as hard to get oxygen to these tissues. Deep breathing also helps to correct bad posture, go ahead and try taking a few slow deep breathes right now and see how your upper body and spine will naturally straighten out and you will sit taller.
When we sit up back straight, keep our head up, open those airways and take even just a minute to take a few deep, slow, conscious breaths, it is considered meditating – even if it’s just for a minute. That is one minute we are taking for ourselves, a break from the outside, spending a moment within, with yourself. Conscious breathing also helps to raise our vibrations which also makes us feel good all around.
Try it out – inhale the positive and exhale the negative, and for the love of your lungs, your body and your soul, do not smoke cigarettes. There is nothing positive about inhaling all those poisons and toxins into your body. Any momentary satisfaction smoking cigarettes provides can not compare to living a long full and healthy life. Not to mention it’s nasty gross… Sorry not sorry to all the smokers out there, anyone who knows me, knew that plug-in was coming!
peace & breathe. Xx