“Control Your Breath, Control Your Life”
From the first breath at birth to the last breath upon passing, you take about half a billion breaths. It is said that each soul is given a certain number of breaths for this life. Cherish every breath you get! It is truly a gift and something we need to be grateful for. Therefore try to develop the capacity to breathe as deeply as you can.
Will it maybe contribute to our capacity to live longer?
If you only have the breaths that you’ve been given, instead of wasting your breath away with sporadic breathing, breathe deeply. Try using your breath to your advantage.
Yoga is based on the eight limbs (principals) of Yoga. One of these limbs is Pranayama. The word pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit words. Although there are various definitions of the term, one interpretation is: prana (life force) and ayama (expansion), or expanding the life force using the breath. The ancient yogis learned that by controlling the breath, you can influence every aspect of your life.
“For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth.” –Sanskrit proverb
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What is deep breathing?
Deep breathing is when you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and you will notice that your lower belly rises. The ability to breathe so deeply and powerfully is not limited to a select few. This skill is available to all of us, it is in fact something that you are born with, but often something that you do not really do. Reawakening it allows you to tap one of your body’s strongest self-healing mechanisms.
So why does breathing deeply seem unnatural to many of us? What you may not realize is that the mind, body, and breath are intimately connected and can influence each other. Essentially, your breathing is influenced by your thoughts, and your thoughts and physiology can be influenced by your breath.
One reason why deep breathing may seem unnatural or hard for us may be that our culture often rewards us for stifling strong emotions. Girls and women are expected to rein in anger. Boys and men are exhorted not to cry. What happens when you hold back tears, stifle anger during a charged confrontation, tiptoe through a fearful situation, or try to keep pain at bay? Unconsciously, you hold your breath or breathe irregularly. What happens if you are constantly acting in this way?
When you breathe deeply and slowly, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which reverses the stress response in your body. Deep breathing stimulates the main nerve in the parasympathetic nervous system, the vagus nerve, slowing down your heart rate, lowering your blood pressure, and calming your body and mind.
If you have ever caught yourself sighing at the end of a long day, this is an example of the body’s natural way of relieving stress.
Here are some of the benefits of a regular practice of simple, deep breathing:
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Lower/stabilized blood pressure
- Increased energy levels
- Improved immunity
- Decreased feelings of stress and overwhelm
- Reduction in PTSD symptoms
- Improved metabolism
- Balancing hormonal levels
And much more
Deep breathing is therefore more relaxing and efficient, allowing higher volumes of oxygen to reach the body’s cells and tissues.