Did you know that we take anywhere from 12 – 20 breaths per minute?  That’s 17,000-30,000 breaths in a single day! That’s minimum 6,205,000 breaths in a year!

So what makes the breath so important?  Besides the obvious in keeping us alive, it’s also the foundation for all meditation and relaxation practices today.

For most of us, we were never taught to breathe.  The unconscious or automatic act of breathing then becomes reflective of our environment and our inner landscape. In this fast paced and hectic world our body also feels this, our breath begins to embody fast, hectic and anxious.  All. Of. The. Time.

Inside of the studies of Yoga, we are taught to refine our breath practice as a bridge between the physical and the universal. In doing so, by learning to harness and change our breath, we literally change our life regardless of environment.

But it’s not as simple as layering some fancy Pranayama technique on top of our habitual patterns of breath. First we must observe how our breath is in our own body, and inside of specific circumstances.  What do you notice about your breath when you are fearful or excited? Angry or sad?

Try this little experiment today. Sit down comfortably, maybe even lay down. Close your eyes if you feel safe doing so and begin to focus on your breath. Don’t change it, just notice it. Is it shallow? Short? Full? Deep? Long? Difficult, Spacious? Now begin to shift your breath. Take a longer, slower, deeper breath in through your nose.  Breath deeply in a way that makes it feel like your belly expands on inhale. Pause slightly, and slowly, ever so slowly, exhale from your nose. Do that again. And again. And again. As time passes, allow your exhale to extend to the point that your exhale is now longer than your inhale. Do this a few more times and then shift back to your automatic, regular breath.  Observe how you feel.

It takes practice but learning to shift our breath from our sympathetic nervous system to our parasympathetic nervous system, or our stress mode to our rest & digest mode is key to our overall health & wellbeing. When we make this a habit, the simple act of awareness of breath and shifting how it is that we are breathing, we are then better able to navigate challenging situations quickly & with ease.

If you can control your breath, you can control your life.

Please reach out if you have questions about cultivating healthy breathing habits that benefit your body, your mind and your spirit.

Dawn Reynolds ERYT/YACEP

Dawn Reynolds Yoga