Lately one can observe a worldwide growing emphasis on the subject of breathing. Dozens of spiritual gurus, meditation and education centers and so on talk and teach people about the importance of the breath and the power in knowing how to use it for one’s benefit.
There are numerous breathing techniques offered to master, therefore it is good for individual to find out and understand where do they come from, how do they affect us and how to correctly use them so we can increase the depth of our physical and spiritual being.
One of the reasons why breathing is so popular and effective is that one can experience its benefits immediately, even if for a short time at the beginning.
In a Yogic breathing, also known as Pranayama, we put the effort to master the flow of the Prana – the universal energy of life. Our breathing practice is the solid foundation on which we can grow and develop as compassionate human beings.
The miracle of breathing is in its simplicity: all of us are equipped with this amazing ability- no need to look far! Right here and right now we have all that we need to better ourselves.
And the yogic knowledge of pranayama gives us valuable explanations on how to use this wonderful tool.
The first step of conscious breathing is to become aware of the breath- to acknowledge the fact that the air is coming in and out, the lungs expand and contract, focus the mind on this and let the awareness arise- like a bridge between the mind and the body, which are no longer separated and can communicate with each other. When the mind is aware of the body, the body can share the valuable information necessary for harmonious functioning.
Conscious breathing also gives us a key to understand and regulate our emotional state. Most of us have experienced how stressful situations make our breath short and shallow, or how we are able to deeply exhale after some event that we were anxious about, like passing the exam or avoiding a car crash.
Deep and calm breathing quiets the mind, therefore we can see and analyze our emotions more clearly and avoid unnecessary conflicts within or in the outside world.
Also, very important is that with the breath work we can change our emotional response- create a certain gap in-between our old “automatic” reaction and the one we consciously choose. This will certainly require some effort from our part and here we must rely on the “holy trinity“ of repetition , rhythm and regularity to create a new , positive habit, but in the end we will reap a sweet fruit of our determination.
Benefits of Pranayama are many, as it works on different levels of our existence.
Physiologically it improves upon one’s health and wellbeing, bringing more energy, health and overall better functioning of all body systems.
Psychologically it prepares us to handle the stress better, increases our ability to focus, therefore creating better relationships with ourselves and with others.
And, of course, spiritually it helps to unfold our awareness, so we can become a silent observers, witnessing the phenomena of life.
Ruta Dzikaraite SBS team 2019-20