What’s All the Fuss About the Breath?
By Tazeen Khan – 200hr Yoga Teacher
When I first started doing yoga I was surprised by the strong focus on the breath, and even more surprised by how challenging it was to keep my concentration there. Without even realising what was happening, my attention repeatedly drifted away from it, and towards my thoughts, which were always racing. Not only was I thinking
about everything I physically needed to do in each pose, I was also dealing with other thoughts that arose.
“Ugh, I hate doing this pose,” “I’ll never get this right,” or “What shall I have for dinner tonight?”
However, I kept practicing and tried to stay connected to each inhale and exhale as I moved and held the poses. Over time it became easier to maintain that focus and I began to experience and understand the positive power and potential of the breath.
The benefits of the breath
1) It is the tool we use to stay grounded in our bodies so that we can be present for our experience on the mat; we let go of the past and the future, and are in the moment with each breath
2) When we become conscious of our breath we automatically slow it down. A smooth, relaxed awareness of our inhalations and exhalations decelerates our racing minds, calms our emotions and helps us to control our movements, which in turn decreases our chance of injury
3) It helps us gain insight into the nature of the mind. The breath and mind are so connected that when we have a disturbing thought, our breath will reflect that back to us becoming shallow and quick. By simply noting our thoughts without judgement, letting them go and returning to our deep, relaxed breathing we can change habitual thought patterns that may be hindering our growth
4) Deepening our breath as we practice yoga helps Prana (or life force/energy) move more freely throughout our bodies, opening up blockages caused by emotions that tighten muscles and create stiffness.
I’ll leave you with a quote said by one of my yoga teachers in class years ago, “If you are not breathing you are not doing yoga, no matter how good you look in the pose.”
Remember, yoga is not just a physical exercise. It is a practice aimed at raising our consciousness, and linking us to something deeper in ourselves. And our breath connects us to other living beings and creatures, to everyone who lived before us, and to everyone who is yet to be born. We need our breath to live, and the quality of our life can change with the quality of our breath.
If you are new to yoga try a beginners class, where you will learn simple breathing techniques that will support you both on and off the mat. The easiest way to book a class is on the bookings page of our website www.durga.ie