The breath is intimately connected to our life force energy, what yogis call Prana. In a yoga practice, the breath is the most fundamental point of awareness, everything gets built on its foundation.
If we aren’t breathing well our life force becomes depleted and we lose our vitality. Blockages get created in the body – not only our physical one but the subtle energetic body also, which includes the mind & emotions – making us ill if they become chronic. Yoga is a powerful preventative medicine because the combination of postures with breath and awareness, helps to clear blockages in the body-mind energetic system.
“Mind is king of everything in our lives…. but the breath is king of the mind” – BKS Iyengar
The breath is a microcosm of the nervous system. Control of your breath is a quick and direct way to change your state. Anxiety, fear and stress can be transformed in minutes by changing your breathing.
The centres in your brain which control your thoughts and feelings are intrinsically tied to how you breathe and are influenced by it. By bringing attention to the way that you breathe, you can control your state of mind… and if you don’t control your mind, everyone else will!!
The inhale energises the body and the exhale calms the body down. A very simple technique is to place greater emphasis on the exhale, rather than the inhale because this shifts the emphasis to the calming, parasympathetic (rest & digest) component of the breath cycle, which is soothing for body & mind. This is also a tool you can use during class, particularly at those times when you are feeling really challenged.
If you bring attention to the pause after you inhale you will feel spaciousness and then in the pause after you exhale you will notice a stillness. The way we empty ourselves is by finding daily spaces that contain our stillness and our silence, places we are not filling or being filled by the outside world around us. We make a space where we are putting nothing into it, except for our presence, breath, attention and our intention and internal gazing.
We become empty in order to fill. Let the breath empty then fill you like the tides coming and going.
The energy that you use for thinking, if you focus on the breath that energy is transformed from thinking into becoming the observer of thinking.
When you are stuck in your head, the breath is the simplest thing to become aware of and you will notice instantly that you feel more grounded and connected to your body, just by that small shift. By improving the quality of your breathing you inhabit your body more fully and the mind–body connection becomes more Alive.
You often hear teachers saying yoga is a moving meditation, creating self awareness by movement and bringing attention to the physical body and the breath.
Beyond the physical, the breath brings you back to the source of who you are. The life force doesn’t exist without the breath so there is a very intimate relationship between the two. All the time I see huge shifts in people who tap into this power. The integrating and harmonising of all levels of being: physical, mental, emotional, energetic, psychic and spiritual is the ultimate purpose of a yoga practice.
Its all in the breath 🙂