January 29. 2016 Breath: A Gift of Life, A Tool For Coping
Having practiced yoga for almost 20 years, the greatest gift Yoga has given me is breath awareness. It has become so integral to my life on and off the mat that I can't fathom how people navigate life without knowledge of the tools breath affords us.
In Sanskrit we refer to breath-work as 'Pranayama'. Prāṇāyāma is made out of two Sanskrit words prāṇa (प्राण, breath) and ayāma (आयाम, restraining, extending, stretching). Breath is the only system of the body that is both under involuntary and voluntary nervous system control. Without breath we die and yet, we have the ability to control and manipulate our breath to a fairly great degree. If the quality of our lives is decreased with less breath can't we assume that our quality of life is greatly enhanced with more breath - or with conscious breath.
I have been focusing on breath-work or Pranayama on my classes this past week. We have been exploring the various influences the breath has on our physical, emotional and mental bodies depending on how we chose to manipulate the breath. Several rounds of breath focused on a complete exhale encourage us to let go of toxins and unwanted thoughts / worries or anything that is not serving us. Several rounds of breath focused on full complete inhales saturates the blood with O2 imbibing us with fuel/ Prana) and encouraging us to take in that which will serve us. A steady, equal breath (Sama Vritti) will bring quiet and ease to the physical, energetic & stress bodies.
Perhaps after reading this you will begin to explore your own multi faceted 'tool box' of breath. A great way to start is to employ a 4 count for your inhale and your exhale for several minutes (set a time so you don't have to keep track). Over time you will be able to witness the stress body quiet, the mind focus and body re-fuel.
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti,
Engage the physical to experience the energetic so that we might encounter the divine.
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