Yogic Breathing, Enrich Yoga - Blog from Hey Mama Movements beautiful Olivia
Just what is so special about breathing (apart from the minor detail of keeping us alive)?
Breathwork is one of the core teachings of yoga and is threaded uniquely through every practice, though the value of this may be slightly lost for those that don’t understand why.
Within this blog I would like to unfold some of the mysteries surrounding breath work so you may understand better the power of this simple exercise and experience the benefits.
We’ll talk esoteric and we’ll talk scientific. So, take a deep breath, find your beautiful open mind and let’s begin.
There are many words for prana; energy, mauri, Qi, spirit, soul. In yoga we use the word prana which means vital force. Yogic philosophy teaches us that this vital force permeates the whole universe and infuses all living things. One of the reasons we practice yoga is to realise this connection we have with all living things – yoga literally means yoke, to unify or connect. I believe one of the shortcomings of modern life is the disconnect we have with our bodies and the environment.
Prana, our life force, affects the vitality and health of the body as a whole, from physical aches, ailments and immunity, to emotional wellbeing. Where this relates to us is that this force is said to be closely linked to respiration, for it is through breathing that prana enters the body.
Boosting Immune Function
Wim Hof is famous for teaching deep breathing techniques all over the world. The aptly named ‘Iceman’ is able to withstand below freezing temperatures for lengths of time that boggles the mind. Wim directly affects his immune system and body temperature, and he does this through breathwork.
This is a deeply fascinating topic worth some explanation so let’s explore it.
One of the most powerful ways breathing positively affects our immune system is through relaxation. It brings our body into our parasympathetic nervous system which creates the perfect conditions for healing, digestion and fighting disease.
Being in this state of calm also reduces the level of the infamous hormone, cortisol. Having too much cortisol in the body causes a cascade of misadventure in the body, one of these being inflammation. Decreasing cortisol levels and inflammation is a powerful way to protect against aches, pains and disease.
Finally, our body hums with the happy buzzing of chemicals moving through body and brain. Increasing oxygen in the blood and accessing a calmer state of mind, through deep breathing, nourishes the body and mind with the healthy functioning of these chemicals, nutrients and hormones, which in turn helps with clarity, vitality and a strong immunity.
Body – Mind Connection
Linking breath with movement, as we do in a yoga flow, connects our body with our mind and this enriches our emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
So how can we use this practically in our day?
Inhale deeply, expanding first the belly, and then expand the chest, filling the lungs completely.
Exhale relax the chest first and then the belly until all the air is released.
Continue this breath in a wave like motion.
I invite you to close your eyes and try it now.
You can also use this as a mindful and playful tool with your kiddies by blowing bubbles! Inhaling deep into the belly and then a long smooth breath out to make lots of bubbles.
The more you practice yogic breathing, the more habitual it will become. But if all you have today, is time to stop and breathe consciously like this 3 times, you are still affecting your health and wellbeing, from the subtle energies, to immunity and vitality.
This is yoga.