How much do you think about your breath? No, this is not about whether you ate a lot of garlic or onions.  Rather, I’m asking, do you notice your breath as you go about your day?  Do you notice when it’s shallow and fast? Do you notice when it’s deep and even? What is you’re breath like when you’re relaxed? What is your breath like when you’re anxious? There’s a connection between how you feel and your breath. Have you noticed it? What does your breath say about you?

For me, breath is an integral part of my life in more ways than one. Of course, I need to breathe in order to live. Without my breath, my body would simply shut down.  I need the oxygen to fuel my muscles and make my physical body work properly.  It’s a basic element of life.

However, there’s so much more to my breath. To me, my breath is an indication of what is happening in the moment. Just as life events can have an affect on my breath, the reverse is also true. I can change how I’m reacting to a situation just by changing my breath. If I’m in a stressful situation and I need to find a little calm in my life, then I can take slow deep breaths in order to change my perspective on the situation.  The opposite can happen as well.  If I’m feeling lethargic, I can energize the body with a series of short, fast breaths. Changing your breath can change your outlook.

Breath is an indicator of what is happening in the present moment. My breath connects my mind and body. Thus, my breath is a part of who I am at this very moment.

In yoga and yoga therapy, we talk about the breath a lot. In a yoga class, I might advise you to use your breath to help calm the body or to let go of your stress. In a yoga therapy session, I will use the breath in order to bring you back to the present moment so that you can connect to what is happening right now. In both uses, your breath is about your awareness. Are you aware of what is happening? Can that breath help to bring you more awareness?

I’ll give you an example of listening to the breath and using the breath to make a change.  In my daily life, I drive a lot.  Often, I end up in traffic.  The longer that I sit in traffic, the more irritable I sometimes become.  Now, as I sit and wait for traffic to clear, I sometimes notice that my breath is becoming faster and more shallow.  My body might feel tighter and my anxiety is rising.  If I’m paying attention to my breath, I’ll notice that it has changed and then I’ll notice that my body is reacting to the current situation.

What is somewhat unique about your breath is that after it’s alerted you that something is happening in your current situation, you can then use your breath to make a change.  So, in the situation where I’m sitting in traffic getting all worked up, I can then make a conscious effort to deepen and slow my breath.  When I do this one thing, then my body will begin to relax and with my breath I’m sending the message that all will be okay.  I’ll be able to remember that I’ll get to my destination when the traffic clears.  In most instances being a little later than expected is not that big of a deal.  So, my breath will lead the way in helping me to realize that yes traffic is backed up, but all is not lost.

So, what does my breath say about me?  Actually, quite a lot.  It tells me when I’m needing a change and it tells me when everything is wonderful just as it is.  My breath is both an indicator of my current emotional state and also an instigator of my next emotional state.  This is something I can pay attention to and alter if I need to make a change.

So, again I ask do you listen to your breath?  Have you paid attention to what it is trying to tell you?  Do you need to make a change?  Or, is everything just right in this present moment?  Your breath will tell you.  You just have to be aware of the breath.

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