Teaching Ourselves How to Breathe Easier
Do we really need to learn how to breathe easier?
Is it even possible to teach ourselves how to breathe? After all, we’ve been doing it our whole lives. Our breath is our oldest and best friend. But is it a one-sided relationship? How much attention do we give our breath? Of course, we notice when we are “short of breath” or “out of breath”, but what about when we are resting easy?
Take a moment to notice your breathing. Do you breathe through your nose or your mouth – maybe a combination of both? Does it land in the bottom of your abdomen or high up in your chest? Is it fine, ragged, or brisk? Is it hard to breathe or does your breath flow easily? Each question is important and your answers will define how easily you breathe.
Notice the qualities of the inhalations and exhalations. Another word for inhalation is inspiration; through inhalations we take in, receive, and become inspired. Through the exhalation, we release, let go and clear out anything that is no longer of use.
In yoga – as in life – breathing is of supreme importance. We could begin a practice of pranayama (generally defined as “breath control”, but more accurately translated as “expansion of the life force”) with a simple awareness of our breath, just noticing the way we breathe. This is the first, and perhaps most important step.
Once you are aware of your breathing, then you can begin to consciously deepen your breath. This can be done sitting, or in shavasana, lying on the back. Without forcing your posture or adding any strain, inhale through the nose – allowing the breath to fill your body from the lower abdomen to the middle chest, all the way up to the upper chest.
We exhale, again through the nose, from the upper chest, middle chest, and lower abdomen. Inhaling: filling up from the lower; exhaling: pouring out from the upper. To better understand the movement, put one hand on your lower abdomen, and the other on your heart. You can also place a small pillow on your lower abdomen while paying close attention to its movement.
Long… slow… deep… breaths are calming and relaxing. You can change the energy of any situation just by taking a few moments to consciously breathe. Next time you start to feel tight, annoyed, angry, or stressed, try taking ten deep breaths. See if you can breathe a little easier in those stressful moments. See if you can ride the wave, balancing between inspiration and letting go and you to can breathe easy.
Silent Journey Contributor