The Importance of Breath

The Importance of Breath

  • Posted by kaleigh
  • On January 19, 2018
  • Comments

“Life is but a series of breaths.”
-Yogi Ramacharaka

Take a moment to observe your breath. Really. Close your eyes and have a moment of noticing. Notice its quality. Are you sipping or gulping air? Is the pace of your breath erratic? Rhythmic? And how do you feel? Calm? Relaxed? Anxious? Stressed? Tired? Energetic? Just notice. You can tell so much about, “How are you doing?” by the observation of your breath. So? How are you doing?

In Yoga, we practice Pranayama; the basic interpretation of which means breath control (and just for fun, the extensive etymological interpretation, given by Bhavani Maki in her book, The Yogis Roadmap is, pra - “to bring forth,” na - “the eternal cosmic vibration,” yama - “to liberate,” and ayama - “to restrict”). Now you know. And wasn’t that fun :)? Pranayama is an integral part of the physical practice of yoga. Without it, we are just bending around like noodles. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois said something to that effect. Well, actually, he probably didn’t mention anything about noodles. Mmmmm…noodles…

Breath is the only voluntary and involuntary function of the body. It is a powerful tool and when used consciously, can help dispel feelings of anxiety, anger, frustration, and so much more. The power of your breath can give you energy, clear your thoughts, and help bring you into the present moment where peace, creativity and happiness reside. In your next asana yoga practice, set an intention to keep breathing. No matter what is happening with your postural practice, just keep breathing. Slow and controlled. Through your nose. Pace your practice to the pace of your breath. Of course, all of this practice of yoga on our mats is for naught if we don’t practice what we learn in class out in the real world. For example, commuting in traffic… slow down your breath, sitting in the waiting room for an interview… breathe, herding your children through Costco (the little darlings)... breath, talking to your hot crush on the phone…breathe, for a better life…breathe. Slowly.

Yogic teachings tell us that we are only given a certain number of breaths in life. So, slow down and make them count, okay? We want you around for awhile. Ready to come breathe with us?