Our breath changes everything.
I remember my yoga teacher, Yvonne told me that yoga changes you, even if you don’t want it to.
Yoga has changed me in so many ways but it’s the breath I keep coming back to.
When I focus on my breathing, I can shift from a state of feeling overwhelmed and lost, to feeling calm and present, in the blink of an eye.
I’ve been observing and altering my breath for many years now and it still amazes me how much there is to learn. Our breath is never the same, it tells us so much about what is going on both on and off the yoga mat.
How does your breath change when something sinks in mentally?
What happens to your breath when you’re anticipating something to happen?
What happens in your body when you release your breath after holding it?
Breath awareness practise
Here’s a simple breath awareness practise you can try if you like.
Take a deep breath in, hold it, and then let it out quickly with a sigh.
Try the same thing again but this time let it out really slowly.
What’s different, if anything? How does it feel in your body, one way compared to the other? Does one method feel better in this moment than the other?
When we alter our breath, we have a direct, quick way of shifting our mood. It is an easy way to send information to our nervous system, which helps us to alter our state.
Most of the time our breath changes unconsciously, we hold, length, shorten our breath; we sigh and take deeper breaths with out being aware of it.
Changing our breathing pattern is one way that our biology takes in our environment and helps us to respond to any signs of safety or threat.
When we sense any type of threat, regardless of whether it’s real or not, our breath might shorten, and become shallower and faster.
Sometimes when we’re under pressure such as working to a deadline, or when we’ve got a lot on our plate, we can experience a similar but perhaps milder response in our breathing patterns.
If we notice this happening, we can sometimes shift things in the moment, by releasing any tight areas of our body and taking a few deep breaths. This can help us to move forward with a bit less pressure and more space to think clearly and navigate any issues we’re facing.
Yoga practice is an easy way to work with our breath
When we take time out of our day to do a formal practice like yoga, we consciously alter our breath. We can choose breathing patterns that make us feel more relaxed or more alert.
Being able to adjust our breath in this way becomes a foundation for shifting how we feel when we’re not on our yoga mat. We have a greater awareness of how our body and breath change in different situations. Through regular practice, we can develop the skill to alter what we do with our body and breath and give us choices as to how we respond in different situations.
If we take time out to do a regular yoga practice, even after a 10-minutes, things will have shifted. We can feel much more at ease physically, mentally and emotionally, we are able to meet situations with a different outlook.
During this term’s group yoga classes we’ve been building more awareness of our breathing patterns, how they naturally change and how we can alter them.
After the classes I taught last week, I heard from participants that everyone could alter their breathing pattern, no matter how much experience they have or how much practice they’ve done.
The breath can often be a part of yoga practice that we forget about, focusing more on our movements. Breathing patterns can become a habit. We can lose the connection with how our breath can add to the depth of our practice.
When we pay attention to how we work with adapt our breath we are fully present in our practice. Breathwork is what makes yoga different to other forms of exercise.
If you have any observations or questions that come up from working with your breath drop me a message.
I love learning more about what others experience and relish opportunities to geek out, discussing yoga teachings and the neuroscience behind our experiences.
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