“Remember to Breathe. It is after all, the secret to life.”
I had never thought much about the importance of breathing and the breaths we took. Truly and with all honesty. Even before, when I was taking yoga classes casually, I do remember the teachers reminding us to breathe when holding asanas. But when you’re an amateur struggling to even maintain an asana, remembering to breathe is definitely not on the top of your list. And this might be one of the most important things I’ve taken away from the course – actually understanding and practicing proper breathing techniques in my practice from hereon. I did feel the difference from week one, when I actually started paying greater attention to my breathing and how I breathe when practicing, starting from breathing right during the sun salutations.
“The New Science of a Lost Art” – Jason Nestor
So to write this post, I did a little research on breathing and the art of the breath. According to James Nestor, breathing “changes us to our sub-atomic level with our electrons”, even affecting the density of our bones. While I’m not that far convinced yet, I do believe that it does the following:
- Slowing down your breathing sends signals to your brain that everything is fine – reducing the levels of stress and anxiety. By tricking our mind via a slower breath, we can let go of the negativities that surround us and achieve a state of mindfulness.
- The use of hyperventilation and controlled breath-holding maximizes the beneficial effects of our innate stress response, while suppressing the negative long-term effects of stress. Instead of eliminating stress entirely, we can learn to twist it to our advantage and condition our bodies to respond in a positive way.
- Improved concentration – controlled breathing allows you to ignore or inhibit extraneous stimuli.
- Proper breathing can enlarge our lung sizes, leading to larger lung capacities. Apparently, lung size is a marker for life span. And while we can’t do anything about our genetics, we can do something about our breathing.
So my dear friends, breathe in deeply, and exhale completely. I’ve found this to have an impact on me and my life so far, albeit it being a short period of time.