Did you know that the word for inspiration in Latin is ‘Inspare’?
When we breathe in, we inhale fresh oxygen, new ideas, new life into our bodies. When we exhale, we are letting go of toxins of negativity and beliefs which are no longer productive. Learning to control our breathing can help us in a number of ways. You may notice that when you are in a stressful situation, your breathing becomes faster and shallower.
I remember during labour with my first child. I forgot to breathe. I panicked. I held my breathe. Baby did appear, very rapidly, but I think I would have been more flowing and calmer had I learnt breathing control. With baby number two, I tried very hard to remember to breathe, but still panicked and wow, it really hurt. With baby number three, I had a false alarm and during the false alarm, I practiced hypno birthing relaxation techniques and breathed and managed to fall asleep and went into a deep relaxation. This helped me relax more when the real labour began.
Normally, we breathe using the upper part of our lungs. The problem is, this doesn’t remove all of the old air from our lungs, only part of it. By breathing using our diaphragms, we can train our lungs to remove much more of the old air stored in them and replace it with fresh air. Not only does the fresh air provide our bodies with more oxygen, by slowing our breath down, it makes us feel more relaxed.
In any situation, you have a choice in how you react. For example, imagine you are late for an important meeting or to collect someone and you are stuck in traffic. You can choose to be stressed or you can choose to be calm. Should you decide to approach the situation in a calm manner, you can alter your breathing. By imitating a deeply relaxed state, you will find your mind will follow and feel more relaxed. Try breathing more deeply, filling up your entire lungs with oxygen. Take a deep breath in through your nose and into your belly and exhale through your nose.
It makes sense that a calm mind is a much better state to problem solve. Once you are calm, you will be able to think of more imaginative ways to resolve problems. It’s much easier to find solutions when you are in a calm state than a stressed one, when you go into panic mode.
Have a go at practicing the yogic breath detailed at the bottom of the blog. It may feel a little strange at first, but once you become accustomed to it, you’ll feel so much better. While you’re practicing, try and imagine you are breathing in positive thoughts and energy and breathing out any negative thoughts and redundant beliefs.
Breath is Life. According to Yoga philosophy, our life is measured in the number of breaths we take.
You may hear of breathing excercises being called ‘Pranayama’. Searching on Wikepedia, I found that Prāṇāyām (Sanskrit: प्राणायाम prāṇāyām) is a Sanskrit word meaning “extension of the prāṇ or breath” or, “extension of the life force”. The word is composed of two Sanskrit words, Prāṇ, life force, or vital energy, particularly, the breath, and “ayām”, to extend or draw out. (Not ‘restrain, or control’ as is often translated from ‘yam’ instead of ‘ayāma’).
The reported benefits of Yoga Breathing include:
- · Increased vitality and alertness
- · Stress management
- · Improved sleep
- · Greater confidence and positive thinking
- · Improved concentration and memory.
The full yogic breath can be carried out using the following technique:
Full Yogic Breath time
1. Close those eyes.
2. Place your hands on your stomach, slightly interlacing the fingers so that the fingertips come to the second knuckle of the opposite hand. Your navel should feel cradled.
3. Begin to breathe deeply into the navel, into the belly (see photo)
4. Practice breathing with a controlled, slow breath so that you feel the fingers slide apart on the inhale and back together on the exhale. As much as you try to expand on the intake, see how much you can expel on the out breath. You may find that you can have those fingertips slide together farther than they started. Whether they do or do not, the most important thing here is to work on controlling the breath. Smooth in, smooth out. Notice where you tend to rush or lose control.
5. Breathe like this 15-20 times as deeply as you can without discomfort or force.
6. Slide the hands up to your ribcage. A good estimation is to have your little fingers hang over the edge of your ribs with thumbs right below the pectorals.
7. Continue breathing, except now inhale into the belly, in to the ribs. Fill the belly first before expanding the hands on the ribs. Visualise the breath filling in your body from the bottom up. First the belly, then the ribs. Feel the ribs expand in all directions– not just forward, but sideways and into the back body.
8. As you exhale, retrace the steps from the inhale. Exhale starting from the ribs, finshing off with the belly. The navel drawing in should help fully expel your air. Don’t force your breath in either direction, in or out.
9. Repeat this another 15-20 times. Into the belly, into the ribs. Out from the ribs, out from the belly
10. Separate the hands and place them on your chest, resting the palms above the heart centre with fingertips gently curled over the collar bones.
11. Continue breathing. Start into the belly, into the ribs, into the chest. Filling up your torso with breath from the bottom up, all the way to your fingertips. Feel the breath rise along the spine, expanding the insides in all directions. Exhale the way the breath came in. From the chest, through the ribs, out of the belly.
12. This is a great time to remind yourself to keep the spine as tall as possible. Just by following the breath from the bottom to the top, from the top to the bottom, you’re already mindful of how the spine is stacked.
13. Repeat this 15-20 times.
Source of yogic breath instruction: Daniel Scott