the breath is a powerful, vital part of our being. it is our life force, our energy. our breath is the core of our physical being and it transcends into our emotional and spiritual being too. In Chinese practice this is called our ‘chi’. in yoga we call this ‘prana’. Yoga breath practice is called ‘pranayama’. in Hindu philosophy prana is believed to be the energy of whole consciousness itself.
to apply this into more literal understanding, how we breath can have a huge effect on our overall state of being. Physically and emotionally. On how our body feels and how our state of mind feels. I am a big cheerleader for body and mind conversation and connection and the breath is a great tool that unites these. the diffference between a tight, rigid body and a spacious, free moving body can be the breath. The difference between an anxious, stressed mind and a relaxed, calm mind can be the breath.
I think it sounds so simple doesn’t it? And we’d reckon that because we breathe naturally and our bodies just do it without thought, that we’d assume we’re doing it right, right? But it’s very very often the opposite, that anything we are experiencing past or present in the body or the mind, affects our breathing and how we do it. This can mean that someone suffering or has suffered with anxiety has become a chest breather. that they breath way high into the chest and not the belly, we breath shorter and tighter and then we get even more stressed and anxious.
When babies breathe they relax their belly and breathe really deep down like a little Buddha. You see their belly expand and they’re not worrying about six pack abs. This is intuitive and a really natural state to breathe in. Belly breathing let’s your body know it can relax and allows our nervous system to switch to rest and digest, where we feel calmer, more at ease and we learn to let go of things we are holding onto in the body or even in our busy chattering minds.
we can actively use breath practice to incorporate a more relaxed state of being. This is really beneficial in managing various types of anxiety and everyday stress, and trauma. as well as practicing breath and pranayama practices in a yoga or meditation class environment we can incorporate it in amongst our day for quick release and breaks to check in with how our breath is. I’ve included a simple practice for this below and where you can include it in amongst your day.
the more we try these practices out and the more our bodies feel the sweet gentle release and ease from them, the more we benefit and the more we realise we start doing them intuitively. my own experience with the breath has been a revelation for my body and my mind and I continue to learn and soak up the goodness that it can bring. I hope it brings you something too.
*there are loads of different types of breathing practices and pranayama practices to try, and they suit different needs and times of day and states of mind. I’d recommend finding one that suits your need and do some research into it a little. start gently and practice the same one for a while.
*i teach a Monday moment Breathing and Meditation class every Monday evening at 8.30pm on Instagram live, if you’re interested in practicing. There’s also past classes up there to practice along to.