My breath is my partner, an old friend and a very efficient healer in helping me stay in my life now. This, I have  found, is the most honest and true way for me to be real with what’s going on around me. When I have an awareness of my breath and the way I am breathing my breath I have a connection to my physical, emotional and spiritual life.  My breath is my reference gage and when I draw on the knowledge, it helps me understand how I meet myself and the world around me. When I think of the value it plays in my life now, I wonder how for so many years I ignored its presence. It was something I did without awareness and in overlooking my inhalation and exhalation I disregarded one of the most valuable assets I had, my breath of life.

Love picture for Breath of LifeThrough my yoga practice I was introduced to the yogic breath and the understanding that stress and varying levels of trauma can cause us to breathe in shallow patterns called paradoxical breathing. This type of incorrect breathing pattern stifles our ability to take a long deep breath. Rather than opening the abdominal cavity to receive the inhaled breath, we contract and pull in the ribs and the abdominal cavity. This restricts the amount of oxygen, gases and other life sustaining resources available to us for living a strong and healthy life.

Yogic breath fills the abdominal cavity with life-giving air. It slows down the heart rate and improves blood circulation with freshly oxygenated blood. The organs, especially the heart and lungs, benefit from this nourishing breath. Emotionally, yogic breathing helps you relax and come to a place of rest. The blood pressure goes down, the stress on internal organs eases, and you feel better. When I started to have a healing experience with this way of breathing I realized it was my breath of life. So much changed for me in learning how to breathe the way I was born to breathe.

Yogic Breathing Practice

  1. Place your hands on your belly and breathe normally. Notice where the air goes. How would you describe your breathing: shallow, deep, fast, slow?
  2. Deliberately try paradoxical breathing, to feel what not to do. Take a few shallow breaths that make your chest rise and fall, but the air doesn’t reach your belly.
  3. Now try a yogic breath. Inhale deep and expand the abdomen, which allows the diaphragmatic muscle to drop down and grab the oxygen. Stretch your belly button as far away from your spine as it can go on the inhale. On the exhale, relax the abdomen and contract the belly button back toward the spine, releasing the stale air and toxins.
  4. Like any neglected muscle group, these deep breathing muscles must be built up slowly, and my breathing exercises provide the perfect training sequence for richer, healthy breathing patterns over time.
  5. Check in with your breathing throughout the day, especially in different situations. Notice the breathing habits you have gotten into, and use yogic breathing in times when you need to calm down.