Just a Breath Away

Here is a beautiful article written by: Wendy Rountree.

Just breath. How often do most people pay attention to this function that occurs each and every second of our lives? There is nothing more fundamental and often unnoticed in life then the act of breathing.

yoga breath

In any Yoga class the focus on the breath is important. You are reminded, you are instructed, to breathe. Inhale fully through the nose, filling up your lungs and exhale fully, pushing the air out of your lungs. While going through your different postures (asanas) you are instructed when to inhale and when to release the breath and doing so correctly will make a difference in how you perform physically. In Yoga there are many techniques for breathing (pranayama), but even the simplest form of focus on the breath can provide major benefits.

Observing your breathing puts you in the here and now and tunes you into the current moment. When you are focused on your breathing you are in the present. At least for a time, the thought is not on what may be happening tomorrow, next week, next year or some memory of the past, but the very moment that you are experiencing. When we pay attention to the act of breathing, our body responds. If you are in a seated or standing position and take a deep breath in, your shoulders go back slightly as your diaphragm moves downward and your chest expands. As your spine straightens, you feel erect and your posture is instantly improved. When you take these deep thoughtful breaths in and out, a relaxed and calm state can settle in.

I'm certain that you've heard or perhaps have had the occasion to say to someone while in a critical situation, "just calm down, breathe" or "relax, take a deep breath," "pull yourself together, breath." How helpful might it be if we were to remind ourselves and others to do just that, but not solely when in the midst of a crisis but as a way to incorporate this technique into any moment, a mini respite to feel a sense of peace?

During Yoga, meditation or prayer as you concentrate on the breath you focus and tap into a natural life rhythm. Often you feel the tension slip away. It's hard to have your thoughts racing furiously through your mind when you are truly engaged in deep focused breathing. As you change the pace you can feel the stresses release.

One benefit that many extol of yoga classes or their own individual practice is the sense of tranquility that it provides. I would remind us all that this part of the practice can be incorporated into your daily life, away from the mat. Even those who have yet to engage in any form of Yoga can still derive the benefits that this can bring. At any point you switch your focus from the external and what is going on "out there" to the internal and tune into the act of breathing. Doing so can often help to provide you with the ability to better manage whatever your current situation is with a sense of calmness and clarity.

You can take a few moments and focus as you take a full breath, while in traffic, in a meeting, on a plane, while trying to calm a fretful baby, or even if you find yourself rushing when trying to get to your next Yoga class. This simple technique is available to you anytime and any place. Take advantage and know that peace and calmness is always just a breath away.

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