Breath (part 2): Improving the Quality of Your Breath

Breathing is the most fundamental cornerstone to health. So, how do we go about cultivating breath awareness and how do we begin to improve the quality of our breath?

 

In yogic philosophy, we need not ever actively change any of our behavior. We need only observe. In the process of cultivating awareness, an undesirable quality or habit will atomically begin to correct itself. In other words, if we learn to bring the unconscious to consciousness, regulation will begin to happen on its own. The easiest way to show this is to consider the grossest manifestation of our being, our bodies.

 

Using breath awareness 

 

Yoga and meditation practice begins with the body, precisely because it is the easiest to observe. In yoga, when you do a forward bend with your full awareness and attention, you may notice that your right hamstring is suppler than your left. Without trying to actively improve the suppleness of your left hamstring, simple awareness of this fact may mean you stop over exerting your left side, and eventually, both your hamstrings become equally supple, returning the body to a greater state of balance.

 

The same is true of the breath. Try this simple experiment for yourself. Sit down in a comfortable seated position with a straight spine. Relax the shoulders and the arms, feeling the head gently balancing on top on the neck. Now simply begin to observe the breath. Observe its rhythm and pace, observe where in the body the breath is sitting and observe the quality of the breath as it moves in and out of the body. What you may begin to notice is that without actively trying to change the breath, it automatically starts to move to a more balanced state. By simply observing that the breath is short and sitting in the chest, you may notice that you naturally begin to slow the breath down and draw deeper into the diaphragm. Eventually, with perseverance, subtle shifts will begin to take place of their own accord, simply through cultivating awareness.

 

This same concept applies to morality. If you start to become conscious of the fact that you are un-compassionate in certain scenarios, you may begin to question why. Having eventually resolved the root cause of the behavior, you begin to develop a capacity for compassion in areas that you previously could not. You didn’t actively try to be more compassionate; this happened by itself, thanks to a greater awareness.

 

The thought process behind this philosophy states simply that we are not separate from all that surrounds us. Existence means coexistence. They are one in the same. If this is the case, it makes perfect sense that our physical imbalances and behavior would begin to correct themselves if we became more aware of them. They weren’t benefiting us and thereby, they weren’t benefiting the whole. Nature always calls for balance and as we are a part of nature, we will naturally seek to realign ourselves. That is what awareness is all about.

 

So to answer the initial question: how do you improve the quality of your breath and you’re your overall well-being? Easy. Begin to observe. Cultivate awareness. Develop your consciousness. The rest will take care of itself.

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