• Laurel Contributor

The Essential Breath

By Ashby Underwood-Garner

Something as simple as breathing awareness can help to restore and maintain physical, mental, and emotional health.

Have you ever kept a pace in your life that only seemed to get faster, while at the same time you felt more worn down than ever?

In traditional Eastern Philosophy, a person is thought to be born with only a certain number of breaths to spend in a lifetime. So why waste them? Whether we pant throughout a busy day with shallow breathing, or deepen each breath to experience the present moment, that is a choice.

The truth is that on a daily basis we manipulate our breath much more than we manipulate our body, holding our breath still while we move through our daily habits.

Opening up to a fuller inhale brings an influx of oxygen to the blood, and a more complete exhale removes metabolic waste from the body. Physiological benefits of active breathing can improve neurological and endocrine function. For women, there are specific breath practices that regulate delicate hormonal balance. The power of the breath is fantastic.

Developing a yoga practice is a first step in learning the nuance of how our body, breath, mind and longevity are linked. Through specific breathing techniques (“Pranayama” in Sanskrit), we experience respiration as the space-maker and the time-slower. Our breath resets our attention to what is important. Our breath is a key to our healing. Inflammation, anxiety, depression, heart-break, grief, memory-loss, awkwardness, the list goes on of what discomfort a conscious breath practice will attend to.

Sensory awareness that increases can bring both empowerment and vulnerability. There may be personal reasons that you were shallow breathing, such as pain in the body. As you let go of the holding patterns around your breath, healing happens, as does physical, emotional and meditative ease.

Join us for our next mountaintop Yoga Retreat: “Breathwork, Yoga, and Sound Healing,” Sept 6 - 8 at Elohee Retreat Center in beautiful Sautee, Georgia. Visit YogaHighlands.com for retreat details, or call (828) 526-8880. A qualified Breathwork Coach can help you apply the right breath at the best time for your body type and personal health goals.

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