How often do you listen to your breath?
No, this is not about whether you ate a lot of garlic or onions or need to brush your teeth. 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 it like when you’re relaxed? What is it like when you’re anxious?
You see, there’s a connection between how you feel and your breath. Have you noticed it?
The more that I study yoga & the more that I integrate it into my life, I find I pay attention to how I breathe more frequently. For me, breath is an integral part of my life in more ways than one.
Of course, there is the basic human need for me to breathe. I need the oxygen to fuel my muscles and make my physical body work properly. Without it, my body would simply shut down. It’s a basic part of life.
There’s so much more to my breath.
To me, it’s part of the story that is my life. It’s an indication of what is happening in the moment. Am I calm or stressed? Am I happy or angry? Each of these states of being will affect my breath. If I take a moment to pause and connect to myself during these times, then I’ll notice my patterns of breathing. It’ll give me information that I can use to shift myself if I want. Awareness such as this is always a precursor to making any changes in life.
Just as life 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 my body with a series of short, fast breaths. Changing your breath can change your outlook.
Give it a try. Stop reading & take a few deep, slow breaths. How does your body react? Do you feel calmer? More relaxed? I know that I do when I pause & breathe deeply.
You too can change your state of being by changing your breathing pattern!
Listen to your breath to connect to the present moment.
Breath is an indicator of what is happening in the present moment. How does that work? Your breath connects your mind and your body. Thus, it’s a part of who you are at this very moment.
In yoga therapy, we talk about the breath a lot.
In a yoga class, I might advise you to use it to help calm your body or to let go of your stress. In a private yoga therapy session, I’ll use the breath to bring you back to the present moment so that you can connect to what is happening right now.
In both instances, it’s about your awareness. Are you aware of what is happening? Can that breath help to bring you more awareness?
Traffic doesn’t have to stress you out!
I’ll give you an example of what happens when you listen to your breath and use it to make a change in your reaction to a situation.
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 can become. When this happens, I notice that my breath is becoming faster and more shallow. My body feels tighter and my anxiety rises. The more I feel that I’m going to be late, the more that it feeds into this cycle of anxiety & fast, shallow breathing. Now, 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.
This is the awareness that I’m talking about. Having that awareness of my breath & how I’m reacting gives me the chance to shift that reaction.
Slow it down!
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 slow, deep 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.
What information do my breathing patterns give me?
Actually, quite a lot. It tells me when I’m needing a change and it tells me when everything is wonderful already. It’s 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 pay attention.