Why are yoga and meditation people always on about breathing?
I sense a lot of skepticism about the place. I mean we already breathe I hear people say, so why all the fuss?
Well, where do I start?
I can say from a few years of yoga practice which pays attention to the breath, that all the chatter in the mind begins to disappear, bringing us to the reality of the present moment.
The breath is also a fantastic tool for mindfulness. Focusing on the in and out of the breath, be it in yoga practice or in sitting meditation, or sitting at your desk also brings us to the present moment.
OK, so the next question is: what’s so good about being in the present moment?
It’s all over social media these days as well as a common term that comes up in conversation.
Well it is actually the only reality there is, so ideally it’s good to keep a light and relaxed mind and let go of worries about the past or future.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about the past or future, as planning is a necessary part of life, but that we shouldn’t dwell too much on either. The future is in fact created by our presence and action in the present moment anyhow. And staying in the present moment helps us over time to distance ourselves from the pull of the past (this was pointed out to me in a yoga therapy module on depression and addiction with Ganesh Mohan).
It takes a while for our conditioned Western minds to stop the habitual round and round thinking that goes on in our heads of past and future scenarios, but that’s what yoga is all about, particularly a breath based practice… bringing us to the present moment, and out of the habitual flux of thoughts.
In fact the breath can actually reduce anxiety as well. Take a few breaths naturally and gently extend the outbreath when you are sensing some panic or a bit stressed about something, and your anxiety level will significantly reduce in moments.
So that’s enough reasons for me (there are physiological reasons as well which I’ll explore in another post).
I think I may actually now be addicted to breathing! Coupled with a yoga practice it makes life lighter, and more balanced. And once you fall down, as we all do, you have the tools to get back up again.
For more on the breath, including why we are encouraged to breath in and out through the nose, check out: http://www.gaiamtv.com/article/10-interesting-facts-about-breathing?cid=soc%3Afacebook%3AMY%3Aarticles%3Aal000