Day 80/365 - On breathing

Day 80

3/21/17

Sometimes we get so caught up in the day, we forget to check in with ourselves. But if we stop and think, we owe a lot to the proper function of our breathing. The act of respiration is crucial to our survival, because we need oxygen to maintain life and metabolism.

Breathing is something we usually take for granted, since it’s mostly an autonomic function done for us by the lungs. However, we do have some voluntary control over our lung expansion, frequency of breath, and diaphragm movement. We can even change from nasal to mouth inhalation, and vary up which nostril we breathe from.

In recent years, the popularity of yoga has really helped bring more awareness to the power of the breath. But breathing shouldn’t only occupy the forefront of our minds during yoga and meditation practice. It should become a natural focus for us several times a day, as often as necessary. It can become a ritual to check in with our breath, and use it to calm down, or invigorate ourselves.

In yoga, Hatha yoga focuses on the breath and Kundalini yoga deals a lot with manipulating and varying the power of the breath. Breathing from the left nostril can calm down and relax a stressed person, while breathing from the right can awaken you (say for an exam). Alternative breath (from left to right, closing and opening each one in sequence) can bring a balanced circulation of oxygen throughout the body.

When I’m stressed, or in a rush, I like to do the 7-4-8 breath. I breathe in for a count of 7, hold for a count of 4, and release over 8 counts. I repeat this at least 3-6 times, and instantly feel a shift. What breathing techniques do you all do?