There is one thing in life which we often overlook but is the foundation for living a happy and healthy life. It’s the breath. We can do without food and water for some time, but we can’t live without the breath.
When we breath correctly and breathe so that we use the entirity of the lungs there are many health benefits that follow. A full breath creates a movement throughout the whole spine and ribcage which helps stimulate the nerves, blood and cerebral spinal fluid to circulate through the spinal column. This in turn nourishes the organs and glands within the body and helps the brain function properly. Correct breathing will also improve your digestion. But that’s not all…
If we are able to breath consciously we can begin to settle the mind and the fluctuation of our emotions. “The breath regulates the energy of life, the quality of emotions and the ability to direct the mind”. An ultimate goal would be to listen to each breath we take as we travel through our day, so that we can stay present to our external and internal environment. “I breathe in with gratitude for life, I breathe out and release that which I no longer need”.
Below are two breaths which could change your life. Long Deep Breathing, which is an explanation of a complete breath and Breath of Fire which is an important breath used in Kundalini Yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan.
- Sit straight. The inhale is a 3 step upward motion. Breathing through the nose, inhale deeply into the abdomen, expanding the belly, then expanding the chest and finally lifting the ribs and clavicle.
- On the exhale it is a downward motion. Relax the upper, followed by the chest and then as the abdomen empties we draw the navel towards the spine to push out the last of the air. Allow the breath to flow in a rhythmic way.
Benefits of Long Deep Breathing
Relaxes and calms; increases the flow of prana (life force); reduces & prevents the build-up of toxins in the lungs; stimulates the brain.
BREATH OF FIRE
This breath needs to be practiced and refined so that it feels natural and accurate, as it is used with many postures and exercises in Kundalini Yoga. This is a cleansing and energising breath.
- Sit straight. This breath is equal on the inhale and the exhale. It is powered by the navel point and the solar plexus. Breathe 2-3 breaths per second.
- Close the eyes and focus on the brow point.
- Inhale. Exhale powerfully by pressing the navel point and solar plexus towards the spine, expelling the air. On the inhale the abdomen relaxes again and the lungs fill with air.
- The breath is rapid, rhythmic and continuous through the nose.
- The chest stays relaxed and slightly lifted.
- Begin practicing Breath of Fire for 1-3 minutes.
#Note1: If you lose track of which way your abdomen is moving, relax, then inhale and again begin on the exhale.
#Women: Do not practise this breath on the first and second day of menstruation.
# You may feel lightheaded, feel tingling or dizzy. This is completely normal as the body adjusts to the new breath and the stimulation of the nerves. To relieve the symptoms, tuck your chin to your chest to open the back of the neck or drink a glass of water.
Benefits of Breath of Fire
Releases toxins & deposits from the lungs, blood vessels; strengthens the nervous system to resist stress; expands the lung capacity and increases vital strength.