Breathing

Question: What is it that occurs 22,000 times each day, underlies and supports every possible physiological and psychological function, and yet we remain completely unaware of?

Answer: Breathing.

Interestingly, despite our usual lack of awareness, our breath is the only autonomic system in our bodies (the others being the circulatory, digestive, nervous and the mysterious endocrine system) over which we can exercise conscious control.

We are equally unconscious of the many times when the breath becomes shallow, irregular, or even suspended for a few moments. Holding our breath in an uncomfortable situation or taking big sighs when we are tired or depressed are common examples of the link between breath and experience. Under duress or while experiencing physical pain breathing itself may create or add to the discomfort.

It is in all these times that having an awareness of your breath may be invaluable. Merely taking just 12 to 24 conscious breaths on a regular basis can make a big difference in the daily experience and overall quality of our lives.

Take a moment to close your eyes and notice your breath right now. The very moment we begin to notice our breath it will change, generally becoming slower, deeper and more satisfying. At the core of all Yoga practice is the movement from unconscious to increasingly more deliberate breathing.

Take a few conscious breaths each day and observe how your life changes. To paraphrase a mysterious invitation often voiced by my teacher, ‘just practice increasing your awareness of the breath and something will happen’.

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