Breathing For Health
Deep Belly Breaths
Most of us take the act of breathing for granted, but without it we could not exist. Breath is the essence of life, and although we are always doing it, many of us do not do it properly. The simple act of breathing has become a scientific study, with books and workshops to instruct us how to do it correctly. So vital is proper breathing to physical, mental, and emotional health, that it is a primary component to many yoga practices. Pran means "life force"and yama means "control". Pranayama then is "control of breath".
Breath not only provides the oxygen so necessary to life, it connects our body to our mind and spirit. Natural, healthy breathing is essential to good health. Not only does proper breathing enhance heart, lung, and brain function, but oxygen flow is necessary to cell reproduction. A "cleansing breath" is aptly named for the intake of oxygen that restores the entire system. Breathing also puts us in touch with ourselves. Taking the time to learn to breathe properly makes us conscious of our breath, calling us to be present. Simple breathing techniques can relieve stress and help us work through anger and even depression.
A baby sleeping is the perfect example of proper breathing. The deep belly breathing that babies engage in, without even trying, is how best to oxygenate the body. Breathing deeply into the diaphragm brings energy to the Solar Plexus, the chakra that governs ego, emotions, and intellect. Following a baby's example, breathe deeply through your nose, expanding your abdomen fully. Slowly and completely exhale through your nose, pulling your abdomen in so that all the air is released before taking another full belly breath. Practicing deep belly breaths regularly will get you into the habit of breathing properly all the time, just like a baby.