I know we all breathe and it is an involuntary act, a super important one that keeps us alive. But, since returning from India and having done breath exercises for an hour every day I cant get enough of this amazing practice! This is known as Pranayama. It’s a Sanskrit word meaning breath restraint, it’s a conscious practice that brings your complete focus to your breath, it’s energizing, healing, it helps in regulating our vital organs like our lungs and heart, this powerful energy or ‘life force’ is the link between our mind and body. Something that I have found super beneficial of late is the act of mind-ful breathing.
There were times when I was away on my trip that I didn’t sleep well and instead of reaching for the coffee in the morning or a pick me up, the hour Pranayama practice was what saved me. It gave me the focus, alertness and stamina to move through my morning especially when feeling sleep deprived. The subtleties of this practice became apparent the more breath work exercises we did each day.
Pantajali, the coordinator of Yoga science explained that we can coordinate and quiet the mind by practicing the science of breath. The Science of the breath relates to it being a bridge between our mind and body—it is our breath that reflects the state of our mind. I notice this in myself when I’m feeling anxious and worried about something, my breathing becomes fast and shallow and my body becomes tense and feels knotted. But all this can be undone, when we focus our attention and concentrate on the breath.
I find this concept so fascinating, and even though I have read about it before and practiced it in yoga, having a consistent daily breath awareness practice has helped ease my anxiety and better my physical health, especially my digestion.
So when you are feeling sleep deprived, anxious or a little scattered, bring your focus to your breath. Allow your belly to soften, even place your hands on your stomach or heart and just sit and concentrate on the sensations and directions of your breath.
This is definitely one to add to your toolkit.