How Are You Breathing?


Inhale your belief
Exhale release the grief

Have you ever heard the sound of bliss within a yoga class?

How often do you tune into your breath, letting it shift your body throughout an asana sequence?

Listen for the class collective exhale. Add to it. On three… ”Ahhhhhhhhh.”
That moment of “Woo Sah” is the key to nourishing your body in practice.

Breathe in Meditation

All answers are translated through our body’s language, breath. This is one on of the primary spokes on the cosmic wheel that yoga rolls with. Breath Control, or Pranayama, is one of my favorite of yoga’s eight limbs of yoga. It is a foundation for leading a healthy life both on and off your yoga mat. Breathe is the source of energetic awakening throughout the body. It allows us to learn more about ourselves, creating greater mental, spiritual, and physical awareness. Breath signifies your focus in the here and now.

Simply put, as we focus on the texture, flavor, temperature, sound, and quality of our breath cycles we begin to consciously explore the inner peace of our internal state. This means, that the peaceful blissed out feeling we stumble across within our yoga practice, can become an ever present state of consciousness. By setting an intention and allowing nothing but our breath, and, well, maybe our mind’s eye to be our guide, we are freeing up space for our awareness to shine a warm soothing radiance throughout and within our entire energetic presence. Now, imagine and create a singular breathe sequence that carries you deep into your home, internal bliss. One breath in. One breath out.

For those soul surfers who enjoy the mental ease of mind of scientific support don’t worry, I wouldn’t leave you floating out in the astral plane without any peer reviewed proof on how breathe work benefits the brain. Grab hold of the lasso as we slowly merge our realities into something slightly more concrete.

Follow Your Conscious Breath

Beginning with what us yogis call “Conscious Breathing” or three part breath, we focus on sending and filling all parts of the lungs with oxygen. Our lungs are much larger than we might think of them to be, but on an anatomical level each lung has approximately 1500 miles of airways and 300 million alveoli which are fun little elastics fibrous air sacs. So combined, our breaths are traveling 3000 miles through 600 million individualized air transports. By mindfully inhaling through the nose, deep into the belly, and drawing it out, we let our lower level lungs fill and expand. By continuing our inhale into our central lungs, expanding the chest and back, we then fill our upper capacity by inhaling into our clavicle region, hitting all three sectors of our lung capacity. With this style of Pranayama, we are actively performing cardiovascular circuit training, calming the parasympathetic nervous system, and altering both the form and function of the brain itself.

Breathe in Cognitive and Emotional Focus

Our Olfactory cortex -nasal passage- plays a pivotal role in coordinating electric brain signals, especially to the Amygdala and Hippocampus regions. These two zones serve as warehouse for emotional behavioral expression, and memory retention. With the practice of Pranayama, we can begin to control and optimize how our brain receives, process and stores signals, thus altering our moods and behaviors. This anatomical alteration comes with practice, the more we continue to stimulate these areas of the brain in a calming, non threatening manner, the greater development brain plasticity, and grey matter have been shown to appear on FMRI scans. This is super cool because that means, being conscious and mindful of your breathe, prevents brain decay, and also increases muscle control, sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, concentration, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control.

Breath medicine, also does wonders for the nervous system. So many of us live in, or experience moments of flight or fight instances throughout our lives, and with our breath we can truly begin to take control of our levels of stress, anxiety and depression symptoms. Honor your being, and allow yourself to take a break. Pause, and give yourself a breath before going out in public, while driving to work, before bed, or simply while enjoying a meal, even if it may seem like the most meaningless thing to do. As this one little element in your life becomes a habit of daily practice, you will begin to experience a different level of awareness in your character. These subtle changes will help you reshape your body, mood, and behavior. The average person has a natural breath count of 20,000 breathes per day. If you are already, at a subconscious level, able to sustain the complete and utter functioning of physical survival with those first 20,000, what would your quality of life begin to look like if we dared to get good at breathing?

Breath in Your Awareness

Right now, if you can imagine how practicing Pranayama can benefit your life in any way, I would highly suggest that you use this entry as a sign to start breathing for YOU! There are so many styles of breathing that can help with all sorts of sending ease into our human experience. There is no wrong way to begin, and I mean you are already doing it. Like right now you’re breathing, so become aware and allow yourself to harness this natural power of breathe we’ve all been given. Talk to your favorite yoga instructors about breathing exercises, pick up a book, or continue reading our blog, this definitely won’t be the last time the benefits of breathwork gets brought up in discussion. If you want to breathe and be free, you are the only being capable of making that adjustment in your life. Choose wisely, breathe kindly.