August 31st, 2022

The Miracle of Breath

How is your breathing right now? 

When was the last time you brought your attention to your breath?

If these two questions caused you to stop what you are doing and to bring your attention to your breath, this article is for you! 

All too often, breathing is a secondary function of our life. Until of course, we find ourselves out of breath – be it that we are running to catch the bus or climbing a staircase because the elevator is being serviced. Yet, without breath we simply cease to exist. 

In addition to that, the quality of our breath affects our state of wellness and wellbeing. Of course, when we are stressed or under pressure, our breath tends to be short and shallow. This in turn affects our endocrine system and the release of certain hormones within the body. When stressed, not only does our breath become short and shallow, but also, we begin to perspire, and our body temperature may rise as well. On the other hand, when we bring our attention to our breathing, and we consciously inhale and feel our lungs inflate and exhale fully, as our diaphragm moves up and down, we begin to feel at ease, happy, alert, and comfortable. This is because deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, affects our endocrine system to release hormones that normalize and neutralize our body to function at its best state. Plus, diaphragmatic breathing has been proven to release pain and soothe soreness in our body: 

 “There are two main branches of the autonomic nervous system; sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and restore or rest and digest).  When one is turned on, the other is off.  People dealing with chronic pain have an activated fight or flight system.  Research done at the Pain Rehabilitation Center has shown that ten minutes of diaphragmatic breathing three times a day reduces pain and associated symptoms when done consistently for at least two weeks.”

(Bee)

Life today can be very demanding with all the things that are requesting our attention and time. It can be overwhelming and stressful as we juggle our work with our family life and strive to keep a healthy balance between the two. 

So where do we find time for ourselves and our wellbeing in all of this? Is it even possible? The answer is, yes! 

Whatever your current life situation is right now, you can start where you are and go forward from here by incorporating some of the simple Kundalini Yoga exercises. And it does not require much time, just a few minutes a day to start. But, I agree, it is incredibly challenging to add a new routine to our already super busy lifestyles! Therefore, it is helpful to have accountability and to be part of a community with like minded folks. We invite you to  join the upcoming  Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training, where you can learn more about the foundations of breathing and other beneficial aspects of this style of yoga.

“THE BREATH, PRANA, IS THE KEY TO LIFE, for without it there is no life; it’s also the key to your best life, your excellence. Breath control can become your greatest ally and friend. Breath is the key to balancing your hormones, your emotions, and can even help you negotiate – and win. If you can breathe slower than your counterpart, you’ll always come out ahead. Breath is a discipline and a flow. It is a wave, a vibration, carrying with it a sound current that confirms and reaffirms your divinity – sohung – inhale, so, exhale hung. “I am that; I am the breath of life.” 

(Khalsa, 148)

There are so many amazing breathing techniques that are simple and yet so effective. Take the Breath of Fire, for example. In just a few minutes it helps you strengthen your abdominal muscles while at the same time stimulating your digestive system and delivering oxygen to your brain for better concentration and focus. It also helps balance your endocrine system for best hormonal function. The Breath of Fire is a signature breath technique in Kundalini Yoga that involves “a rapid pumping of the navel that is light and rhythmic. There is little effort in the gentle pump of the belly as one moves air in and out of the nose. Rather, the navel is gently drawn towards the spine with each exhale. The in and out breaths are equal in length, though the inhale comes more through relaxation than effort. Breath of fire is practiced through the nostrils and the mouth closed unless otherwise noted. Beginners are encouraged to start small, with 1-3 minutes of practice. Some people may experience dizziness or lightheadedness when starting to practice. If this happens, take a break and return to your natural breath.” (3HO)

And, here is a short video I recorded for you to try it out if you like:

Do you think you could benefit from incorporating a few simple yoga practices into your lifestyle? I sure hope so! When we think of our body as a vehicle that enables us to perform daily tasks and to enjoy life’s moments, we can easily shift our perspective to see how we can enable its function so that we can live life with more ease and joy.

Kundalini Yoga is the yoga of awareness, and it does just that! It helps you become aware of your inner self and your true nature. Along with helping you learn how to breathe in a manner that is conducive to your health and wellness, it also helps you balance your endocrine system. So that next time you are faced with a stressful situation, you can respond in a calm and neutral manner, and with compassion and understanding. 


References

  1. Bee, S. M. (2019). Diaphragmatic breathing:  why it is the secret weapon against chronic pain? ” mayo clinic connect. Retrieved August 31, 2022, from https://connect.mayoclinic.org/blog/adult-pain-medicine/newsfeed-post/diaphragmatic-breathing-why-it-is-the-secret-weapon-against-chronic-pain/
  2. Khalasa, Sat Purkh Kaur Khalasa, Editor. I Am A Woman: Creative, Sacred & Invincible, Kundalini Research Institute, Santa Cruz, NM, 2009, pp. 148–148.
  3. 3HO, Breath of Fire. (2021, September 22). 3HO. Retrieved August 31, 2022, from
    https://www.3ho.org/practice-open-new/breath-of-fire/

Teacher

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