Updated: Feb 17, 2021
If you breathe, you can do anything! It is amazing how connected our bodies are to our breath. And once we learn to control that breath during times of relaxation or even stress, we can take control our physical response to any given situation.
Simple breath work can reduce stress and anxiety; promote restful sleep; ease pain; increase attention and focus; and, on a more subtle level, help people connect to a calm, quiet place within so that they experience greater clarity and well-being on every level.
In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali describes pranayama as a process by which you can break your unconscious breathing pattern and make the breath long, easeful, and smooth. Most people’s unconscious breathing patterns are anything but easeful and smooth; they tend to be tense, shallow, and erratic. When we are afraid or hear bad news, we often gasp—inhaling and then holding the breath. These breathing patterns can activate the sympathetic nervous system (often referred to as the “fight or flight response”).
One of the primary reasons that pranayama or breath techniques foster a long, smooth exhale which is beneficial because when practiced correctly, they can support the parasympathetic nervous system and activate what is commonly known as the “relaxation response,” reducing stress and its effects on your body and mind. As a result, your resilience in the face of challenge or adversity increases, and your mind becomes more focused and still.
So this week and forever let’s all remember to breathe through the good and breathe through the hard.
The mind is the king of the senses, but the breath is the king of the mind. - Hatha Yoga Pradipika