We all know breathing is part of yoga. But did you know breathing IS yoga. So if there’s one practice you can do on and off your mat all the time, it’s breathe. We breathe in on average 11,000 litres of air a day. We breathe more than we do anything else. If we can learn to breathe well, we can improve our health more quickly than we could by changing our movement, eating, sleeping or living habits. We’re doing it anyway so we may as well do it well.
So how do you know if you’re breathing well? You may already have a deep commitment to a particular breathing technique or pranayama which is advocated by a school of yoga, Guru or another yoga heritage. I am not here to argue over the merits of the different approaches but to encourage you instead to inquire your practice and its merits.
Affecting change in our breathing alters our blood chemistry which in turn brings about deep physiological change to the systems of the body and when done well integration in the mind and the body. Optimum breathing can quite literally transform our lives. But whatever your breathing practice make sure it’s fit for purpose. Make sure you are aware of the purpose of the breath practices you use and the physiological outcomes of that breathing. And if that purpose and outcome serves your aims, great and if not, then feel empowered to make a change.
My main breath practice at the moment is coherent breathing taken from Dr Richard Brown’s book ‘The Healing Power of the Breath’. You breathe in for six and out for six, through the nose, for twenty minutes. The purpose of this breath is to bring about integration between the left and right hemispheres of the brain that in turn then helps to balance all the systems of the body, moving us towards homeostasis. It’s simple. It serves me because all I want, need currently is to be balanced. My friend Ben Wolf calls this breath, the breath for Life. If there’s any breath that will serve anyone well, it’s this one. It’s the queen of all breath practices and the best kept secret in the yoga world.
You can listen to a recording of coherent breathing using a chime to prompt the breath in and out on my website http://www.downwarddogyoga.co.uk/listening.
NEXT UP- KINDNESS coming to the blog soon
Join Helen’s Lunchtime yoga every Wednesday 12.3–1.15pm