Who likes breathing?
Well then you're in luck as breathing is a foundation of yoga and obviously life for that matter. Breathing is the only way to supply our bodies with oxygen, the only way to keep us, in the most basic sense, alive, and yet we never think about it. Yes, I know it is something that our bodies do naturally to sustain life, but life is stressful often causing shallow and fast breath. Without ever learning how to breathe properly we deny ourselves the opportunity to increase blood flow, reduce toxins and bodily waste, help digestion, and develop stronger concentration, focus, and self control. From a Yogic perspective, proper breathing can work to bring more oxygen to the blood and to the brain, and to control Prana or the vital life energy. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say we'd all be pretty stoked about increasing calmness and focus while helping our bodies function at their highest ability. Right?
In yoga the combining of pranayama (proper breathing) and asana (physical postures) is considered one of the highest forms of purification and self-discipline.
In Wednesday night's class we focused on breath, both acknowledging and moving with our breathing. Calming the mind and body enough to find one's breath and even control it is quite the task, so don't feel overwhelmed. Exploring breathing techniques and cultivating pranayama is a life long practice that will constantly evolve and change.
So let's all just take a deep breath and relax.
A really great, simple overview of pranayama.
A good, grounded introduction to pranayama video.
"When the Breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the Breath is still, so is the mind still." - Hatha Yoga Pradipika