Breath. We can’t live without it. So why is it that we forget the most essential ingredient in keeping every single part of the body working properly? I think it’s the very fact that we take breath for granted that’s actually the problem. It’s only when we’re out of breath that we notice the breath. Like when you have a cold or an allergy and you’re gasping for air. That’s when you think, “ hang on a second I’m not breathing all that well.” If you could take note of what’s happening moment by moment with your breath you’d be surprised. The breath has so many intriguing variations, waves and moods. It’s a whole culture unto itself.
I never really knew much about the breath until I took up yoga. Whenever we started breathing I wanted to run a mile. I kept feeling nervous and afraid every time we had to lie back over blankets and breathe. I didn’t really trust my body and was convinced that one day I’d get some sort of disease and die. My mother died when I was young. Her death had a huge impact on me not only emotionally but physically. It’s why I took up Yoga in the first place. Yoga was my lifeline, a way to tranquillize all my insecurities and fears and the breath was the starting point.
Accessing the breath and learning to breathe fully and deeply is even more of a priority now that I know I’m Diabetic. When the numbers go up I take a breath. When the numbers go low I take a breath. When I feel overwhelmed I take a breath. When I want to cry, scream and disappear….I take a breath.
One of my first teachers stressed that the breath could be manipulated and extended, but only once the body was completely relaxed and aligned. Another teacher said exactly the opposite, insisting that the body and its movements fit around the breath.
Whether the body guides the breath or the breath guides the body, working with the breath is a powerful tool in relaxing the nervous system.
Why is breathing so beneficial?
Besides the fact that breathing is the one thing we can’t do without, Deep conscious breathing ‘called diaphragmatic breathing’ has a ton of benefits.
- It engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, regulating digestion, elimination and sexual function.
- The steady exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide feeds the lungs and at the same time clears out toxins
- Massages the internal organs
- Breathing through the nose filters the air so that what comes in is free of dust and debris
- Improves our ability to eliminate waste through the lymphatic system
What’s amazing about the breath is that is has two functions:
Unconscious, automatic breath, which continues regardless of whether we think about it or not
Conscious breath, where we are aware of the breath and can use the breath to change our response to any given situation.
For example: You test your sugar, it’s low, you freak out. Your heart rate goes up, breathing is agitated and the adrenaline is pumping. Taking a few slow deep breaths into the belly while getting what you need to raise your sugars can greatly improve the impact that the stress of a low has on your entire system.
Holding your breath, forgetting to breathe, being overly identified with emotional states, physical tension and external stressors all contribute to the dumbing down of the breath. Not breathing well limits your body’s ability to find balance. Without balance you don’t have the reserves to deal with the every day details of managing your condition.
Stop…take a moment….BREATHE…..you can do this!
Join me in the practice below and learn how to take a full complete breath….. with great respect, Rachel
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