The power of breath
The average person takes between 15-18 breaths every minute, inhaling about half a litre of air with each inhalation. Of all necessities in life, breathing is our most immediate. Yet, we pay so little attention to it.
In my mind, our breath is 'the essence of life'. It is the interface between our body and mind.
We can go for about six weeks without food and for a few days without water. But without breathing we would not survive for more than a few minutes.
Many ancient practices such as Yoga and Chinese Medicine have been emphasizing the importance of our breath for centuries.
The power of breath is immense and as such we should all be cultivating a regular (ideally daily) breathing exercise practice. My background is in Yoga & Ayurveda and thanks to these practices I was introduced to 'pranayama' / breathing techniques which have become an integral part of my daily 'sadhana' / yoga practice. I've found these especially invaluable in recent months due to its calming effect on our nervous system.
One can't talk about the breath and not mention 'the energy' which is referred to as 'prana' in yogic tradition, and 'chi' or 'ki' in Oriental Medicine. Simply because the way we breathe impacts our energy flow greatly.
Yoga divides 'prana' into five categories, each one carrying its own significance for our overall health:
PRANA / vitalizing breath governs our inhalations. It is also the dynamic force that allows us to take in all forms of energy.
SAMANA / nourishing breath 'oversees' the entry of oxygen into our lungs. It also aids our digestion and helps us process our thoughts and feelings.
VYANA / expansive breath is responsible for our circulation and distribution of oxygen throughout our body. It equips us to expand into the world.
APANA / cleansing breath is responsible for our exhalations and release of carbon dioxide. It is also the force that assists the birth of a baby by expelling it from the mother's womb.
UDANA / expressive breath accompanies APANA during exhalation enabling our energy to 'rise up' and find expression.
I hope that this short overview on the importance of breath & 'energy' will inspire you to pay more attention to how you breathe and hopefully, cultivate a regular breathing exercise practice.
To get to know your breath, start by just observing it for 5-10 minutes each day with your eyes closed, your lips sealed in a comfortable position (either seated on a chair or on the floor with your legs crossed or extended and your spine erect).
For more guidance on breathing exercises check out my next blog coming out on 4th Aug.
Always seek the help of a skilled professional if you have any health condition that affects your respiratory tract.
Embrace your radiance through your breath!