Your breath … breathing, something that you do continuously throughout your life yet most pay little attention to.
There is a saying in Hatha Yoga ‘with the perfect breath comes the perfect health’. What does this mean?
I think a good starting point is how many of us may as well be considered holding our breath rather than breathing. This is the case for me and I think many others especially women. My ability to relax into that deep belly breath that so many yoga instructors talk about is an approximate nil. I just cannot do it.
This started for me in my youth when I first became body weight conscious – unfortunately brain washed like the rest of our youth into thinking that I would be a better version of myself if I sucked in my stomach and looked thinner. I really think this early training has much relevance to my current breathing rhythm today.
Unfortunately because I cannot get my breath deep down into my diaphragm I am always breathing high up in the chest. This way of breathing really affects the nervous system and adrenal glands. It keeps me in a wound up hyperactive mode, my sympathetic nervous system engaged in a fight-or-flight response. Of course when the body’s nervous system is in this mode it is unable to access its rest and digest cycles also called the parasympathetic nervous system. With the nervous system it can only be in one mode or the other. If you have digestive problems one of the most simple changes you could make for your health in this regard would be deeper breathing.
Deep breathing also benefits the circulation of fluids within the body, including the lymphatic system. All those cellular wastes and toxins need muscle stimulation to circulate properly. Deep diaphragm breathing is one of the few ways you can help it along. The importance of a well circulating lymph system cannot be stressed enough for our total well being.
A yoga principle that is of great importance is that each time we breathe in and out, the brain scans all the frequencies of the body. As we breathe in, the scanning goes up the frequencies from lowest to highest. As we breathe out the reverse happens.
From science we know that all parts of the body vibrate at their own frequency: the slower the frequency the denser the body part. Bones for example, represent one of the slowest frequencies of the body: blood is a higher frequency; meridian and chakra energies are higher still. Emotions and thoughts are some of the highest frequencies found in the body.
During each breath , the brain scans these frequencies to establish if any are malfunctioning. How well it can do this depends on the fullness of your breath cycle. If our breathing cycle is restricted the brain will not be able to detect imbalances and correct them.
One of the biggest benefits of breathing deeply and fully is that it helps us process our emotions and life pains. Strong emotions hold energetic charge and emotions when not fully processed can become lodged in our fascia and impede our regular body functions and health.
Grief for example – If you have ever experienced deep grief or sadness you can almost say it has a quality of heaviness. Often it will feel heavy right over the chest area. The slight movement that breathing causes aids the connective tissue throughout the body to release stored emotions.
A deep breath cycle helps us get in touch with ourselves and our emotional body, when we breath in fully we are literally breathing life in fully. Breath is life. People who breathe shallowly will often be living shallowly as well or sub consciously not wanting to get in touch with deep seated emotional pains.
In BodyTalk the in-breath is associated with being in touch with life and taking in all its experiences fully. Breathing out fully is equated to being able to fully release the attachments to life’s experiences. People who do not breath in deeply fail to fully connect with their emotional and mental processes. People who do not breathe out fully often have “driven” personalities and rarely allow themselves to fully let go.
A useful health practice is to practice with awareness full breaths in and out. Not only will you be reaping the rewards mentioned above but will also become more centered and anchored in the present moment which is the least stressful and healthiest place to be.
Categories: BREATHING / PRANAYAMA