Breathe yoga?

20.000 moments in a day that you normally do not quite perceive to the fullest. There is no such thing as total calmness in your body. Our blood moves through our veins enriched with oxygen nourishing your whole body with life energy. So why don’t we pay more attention to a natural urge that keeps us alive?

Let’s look at nature for a second, since there are so many different species out there. Thinking of their rhythm of breathing a rabbit’s breath is just as its movement – hasty, quick and always on the edge. They inhale and exhale rapidly and their heart beating rate is pretty high too, even at rest. An elephant on the other hand embraces its slow, calm and grounded nature through taking long and deep breaths. When looking at the lifespans of these and other species a clear tendency can be deducted – the slower the breath, the slower the heart rate the longer the being is supposed to live. So would you like to live longer?

So what can we take from this to enrichen our lives and make them longer with more opportunities to strive for happiness? Try this exercise for a moment. Sit in an upright position and close your eyes. Focus on your breath and how the flow of the air entering and leaving your body lifts your chest up and down. What else is moving? Can you feel the stream of fresh air entering your nostrils? Do your rips move inwardly and outwardly? Can your breath flow freely or do you feel the need to control it now since you are focusing on it? Does this observation exhaust you? Are your shoulders raised?

There are so many different sensations that you might have noticed during this exercise that might have surprised you, made you uncomfortable and gave you a new connection to your body. You just projected your consciousness inwardly probably since a long time or maybe even for the first time. Unfortunately this connection with our bodies gets lost in the rush of meetings, flashlights and social conventions. The more we integrate ourselves into modern society, the more I personally struggle to stay connected with myself. When did our life change that being disconnected from feelings, emotions and knowing your body became desirable? How are we supposed to understand what our body tells us while practicing yoga when the symptoms cannot even be probably interpreted?

In yoga there is this art of breathing called pranayama. “Prana” means vital energy and “yama” stands for control and “ayama” can be translated to extension. The flow of prana cannot be located in the body, but rather in the energetic body. There are certain breathing techniques that encourage the absorption of prana into the body’s subtle energy channels and energy centers. I will introduce the basic yogic breathing technique that encourages the practitioner to take whole and deep breaths really utilizing the full lung capacity.

As the diaphragm moves downward in order to fill the lowest part of the lungs, the intercostal muscles expand the ribcage and the air gets pulled into the middle part of the lungs as well. The air comes into the middle part of the chest. Inhalation should happen slowly. You can use your hand to feel how the abdomen expand as they get filled with air. So the air fills the abdomen, then the ribcage and at last the air reaches the collar bone. Exhalation goes the other way around, from the collar bone down to the abdomen. Try to do that slowly and pay attention to every breath that rejuvenates you with new life energy.

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