In this post I will talk about the importance of breathing in yoga postures, but first of all I want to bring something to your attention. Have you ever had the experience of having to squeeze through a small space and an onlooker laughingly say “Breathe in!” whilst at the same time holding in their stomach and puffing out their chest? I have noticed that many times throughout my life. Well, in actual fact when you breathe in, the stomach should expand and it should contract on the exhale! Most people actually shallow breathe – short and sharp – i.e. they breath from the chest up only. This type of breathing can be responsible for anxiety and irritation and could even lessen the lifespan. (Take note that tortoises are very slow breathers and are notorious for living well over a 100 years).
It’s common sense really – if you are only using part of your lungs to breathe you are being short-changed! There is so much more breath to be had if you slow it down and breathe from the diaphragm up – i.e. from two inches below the navel. The diaphragm muscle connects from the sternum all the way down as far as L1 and L3 vertebrae of the spine – it is kind of like a big mushroom or parachute affair! If you can remember that when you breathe (low – slow – flow) – you will feel much calmer and have more energy not only in yoga practice but also in life! Everything is connected – one big jigsaw! You’ll probably hear me say that a lot!
Anyway of course, the breath in the body is your Life Force – no breath – no Life! Yoga is about allowing that Life Force that is freely available 24/7 to flow through the body with ease, thereby bringing nutrients and Life to your body.
Having taught yoga for several years, I have witnessed more often than not, that if a posture is particularly challenging, the new student will often hold their breath to try and stay focussed, exhausting so much effort for no benefit at all. It’s like trying to run a Porsche without petrol! Therefore, particularly when practising yoga, make sure that your breathing is slow and even and starts from 2 inches below the navel. This will keep you stable and comfortable throughout the posture, so you can enjoy it! This also ensures you are using your core which will give you a lot more strength too. You will also have the confidence that your Life Force is doing its job of giving you Life and you are actually gaining the benefit from the posture! This will also enable you to experience Presence which is the subject of my next post!
Breathe and enjoy!