When was the last time you noticed your breath? Not for a long time? Perhaps it was at a time when you felt short of breath or breathlessness or even a time when you took a deep breath in to smell something delicious or beautiful.
We take the breath for granted. It is always there.. that unconscious action that sustains life. We can live for days without food and hours without water but we can only live for a few minutes without air that comes to us via the breath and the breathing process.
The breath can tell us much about how we are feeling. A rapid shallow breath is common with anxiety, tension and fear whilst a slower deeper breath is calming and relaxing. In yoga the breath is associated with the life force, a means of accessing and increasing prana (life force) in the body.
“The breath itself is not prana but the means of absorbing prana and the manner in which we breathe sets off pranic vibrations which influence our entire being.” Swami Niranjan
In Pranayama or breathing practices during your yoga class you learn first of all to become familiar with your breath. To know its depth, rhythm, rate, temperature and to explore it and the breathing process much as you would explore a new home. For many of us it is the first time we have paid any attention to this amazing body process. After you learn to recognise your breath and its relationship to how you are feeling both physically and emotionally you learn to take conscious control of the breath for short periods of time, exploring the effect this has on your body and your mind. Connecting with the breath is an essential part in the practice of yoga.
Try it now…take a few moments to sit comfortably, close your eyes lightly and focus your awareness on the breath…you will be surprised by what you discover!