Focusing on our breath gives us something to be aware of in the present moment. When we become aware of how we are breathing, we can adjust how we breathe, and change our whole state of being.
In yoga there are many breathing exercises (pranayama) where we practice noticing and/or controlling our breath. We can adjust the length of our breath, the depth of our breath, which nostril we are breathing through, the sound of our breath, the expansion and contraction of our rib cage and our abdominal/pelvic floor muscles, the position of the tongue in the mouth… the list goes on and on.
Why do we do this? Not all breathing is ideal for relaxation. Short, shallow, chest breathing actually triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response (the sympathetic nervous system). It serves a purpose when we need to get away from potential danger, but we don’t want to be unintentionally sending that message to our body/mind all day every day.
When you breathe deeply, slowly, and with your full body, you can trigger the rest-and digest-response (the autonomic nervous system). This can help relax the mind, purify the body, and leave you feeling more energized.
Breathing alone, can do wonders for us mentally and physically. But when we combine intentional breathing practices with physical movement… that’s where the real magic happens!
I talk about breath in my work a lot.
During massages I often talk to people about their breathing patterns- where they are breathing in their body or how fast or slowly their breath is happening. Sometimes I will just encourage my client just to notice how they are breathing, but other times I will lead them through an entire guided meditation focusing on their breath.
In Physical therapy sessions, I teach people about how posture effects breath and how breath effects our pelvic floor strength.
During private yoga sessions, I coordinate cues to inhale and exhale throughout the movements- and I teach my clients why we choose inhale/exhale and how to coordinate that for themselves.
Schedule a massage, PT session, private yoga session (or a combination) today to learn more!
But, if you don’t have time for all that, you can just take a deep breath! 🤪