Yoga and breathing.
Most of us have forgotten how to breathe properly.
We take shallow breaths through the mouth and use our diaphragm rarely, if at all. When inhaling, either we lift the shoulders up or we pull in the abdomen. This way we only use a fraction of our lung capacity. Our bodies do not get enough oxygen. The result: we feel fatigued, sluggish, even depressed.
Proper breathing (pranayama) supplies the body with sufficient oxygen and connects it to its ‘battery’, the solar plexus. An enormous amount of energy is stored there. By becoming aware of our breathing and taking deep breaths, we can tap into these energy stores in our daily lives. The body becomes stronger and can deal much easier with the demands of modern life. Thus stress and many illnesses such as depression can be overcome.
“When the breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the breath is still, so is the mind still.” Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Breathing – vital energy for body and mind.
Breath is life. We could survive for days without food or water. But without oxygen we would die within minutes. It is truly astonishing how little attention we pay to the importance of proper breathing in daily life.
Yoga – let the energy flow.
The essence of all yoga exercises is the flow of life energy, called prana in Sanskrit. Prana is the subtle energy that vitalises both body and mind. Different types of pranayamas (breathing exercises) cause the prana to flow and thus revitalise the whole nervous system.
Yoga – control over the breath and the mind.
Yoga breathing exercises teach us how to control the breath – and with it the mind. The two are always interconnected, as the following example clearly shows: when you are scared or angry, your breathing is shallow, fast and irregular, but when you are relaxed or focused, your breathing slows down. So by regulating our breathing, we increase our uptake of oxygen and vital energy (prana) and also boost our power of concentration. Concentration is in turn the prerequisite for meditation – the practice of which leads to deep inner peace.