A week later, nature provided a much-needed downpour that cleaned the air. It was only then did I notice how much I was holding my breath during the smokey time. Now, with great appreciation for the ability to breathe, I realize how often we take our breath for granted.
Our breath and our awareness of it reflects so much about how we feel. If it is short, shallow or labored, we may be experiencing stress in all its many forms. If we have pain or discomfort in our body, we may notice we hold our breath or lack the ability to breath out fully.
Since the breath reflects the state of our mind and body at any given time, the Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras state we can then use the breath (pranayama) to change the state of our minds and bodies as well. We know the body in asana should be steady and comfortable. Patanjali also says regulating the length of our exhale, inhale and the pauses in between, results in a long, smooth breath and steadies the mind. Pranayama benefits us during stressful times and helps us to maintain balance, and prepare us for deeper practices such as meditation.
On a very practical level, deep breathing and extending our exhale affects the parasympathetic nervous system. Our breath helps us to not only relax, lower our blood pressure and much more. This offers a necessary counter balance for our minds and bodies to withstand the effects of outside forces swirling around us, much we have no control over. We can control what we focus on and hopefully be encouraged to maintain our practice of asana and pranayama. Keeping Yoga as a staple in our daily routine, if even for a few breaths, will helps us all pass through this time in a positive way.
Please continue to take nurturing care of yourselves during this time. As always, we look forward to connecting (and breathing) with you all in our upcoming Zoom classes. Fall Registration is now open, and if you have any questions, comments, or special requests, please do not hesitate to contact us.