Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Just Breathe

Life throws us lots of challenges that often suck up so much of our energy.  Lately, I've been going through some personal issues that have been very stressful.  I've always turned to yoga to help me find my center, quiet my mind, and bring balance into my life.  After a long hiatus I have recently found my way back to yoga and as always it's my saving grace.  One of the hardest challenges I find in practicing yoga is breathing.  Sounds simple right? But it's amazing how we don't really breathe correctly.

Breathing is the most basic activity of human life, and it is also the foundation of yoga practice. Yoga breathing is sometimes called pranayama. This two-part word contains “prana” which means “life force,” and “yama,” which means “control.” In other words, yoga breathing is about having control over the life force of breathing. Breathing, of course, is the most natural action, since nobody has to be taught how to do it. It is fundamental to life.

Yoga breathing balances your parasympathetic nervous system. This is your “rest and digest” system. It’s what makes you relax and recuperate. These days, we’re so over-stimulated, we’re always in a state of “fight or flight” (your sympathetic nervous system). Too much stimulation leads to an over dominance of sympathetic tone. Breathing can change that. Concentrating on inhaling while expanding the diaphragm and abdominal muscles is energizing, while concentrating on exhaling and “letting go” of negativity is soothing.

When you control your breathing, it builds your lungs. When you exhale, it calms your mind and helps stress go away. Tension is expelled from the body, helping the body achieve the relaxed state where meditation can do its positive work. A relaxed body and mind help a person progress on their spiritual journey and leave behind negative responses to the stresses of everyday life.

I encourage you, especially in times of stress, to just....breathe...

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