Updated: Feb 19, 2022
I am convinced that proper breathing has changed my life. I am convinced that everyone can feel less anxious and more connected if they understand the power of their breath. This is not a new concept, though it has largely been ignored by our society. Since unlocking this power for myself, I have made it my mission to spread the word about what I know. My study of breath is not even close to over! Here are some things I've learned so far:
An Ancient Secret
Most of you know I'm obsessed with history. Learning that ALOT of ancient cultures knew about the benefits of proper breathing had me swooning. What I love about it is this: they knew things that we have pretty much forgotten because we don't have to be as in touch with the earth, or our bodies, to survive.
The Ancient Yogis are credited for being the first to tap into the power of breathing. In his book Breath, James Nestor also mentions Ancient Egyptians, the Chinese, & the Native American Mandan Tribe with harnessing the power of breath for maximum wellbeing.
Don't Breathe More, Breathe Better
Breathing seems easy. And if it's good, then cool I'll just breathe more? Nope! We have to breathe BETTER, which means:
Breathing WAY MORE through our noses, and way less from our mouths.
Taking deeper, longer breaths (5.5 second inhales and 5.5 second exhales).
Finding a rhythm that works for our bodies.
We will feel an improvement even with just this knowledge. But to get the maximum benefit we have to practice breathing...
Learn about Your Breath in Yoga Class
Ta-da! Yogaaaa!! The reason yoga is unique from other types of movement is that each pose is specially designed for you to access the full power of your breath. The practice of yoga has been honed over time (starting 5,000 years ago), so it's a well-oiled machine at this point. Even when you don't think you're doing work in yoga, you're doing work. That work can be physical, mental, or spiritual - and alot of times it's all of them together! All you have to do is show up.
Learn about Your Breath through Pranayama
Pranayama is part of each yoga class, whether the teacher mentions the word or not. Prana is our breath; our life force. Ayama means to lengthen, extend, and control. In each class, we cue Ujayi breath (in through your nose, out through your nose). That is pranayama.
There are other types of pranayama, each with a different approach to helping us lengthen, extend, and control our breath. We try these different pranayama techniques in our Wellness classes at JFY. I'll be sharing out more information and videos on these types of pranayama on our instagram @journeyforwardyoga. Here's a snapshot of a few we'll be covering:
Six-Direction Breathing: fill the body up with breath from all directions (up and down, side to side, and front to back).
Dirgha: isolate and breath through the belly, then ribs, and then chest
Positive & Negative Breathing