In recent years one thing I’ve learnt is just how important and underappreciated breathing is. There’s nothing else that can completely change your physiology in such a short span of time. Think of any crisis situation and one of the first things you are often instructed to do is focus on your breathe “take a deep breath” etc..
There is a direct connection between your breath and autonomic nervous system. Incorrect breathing mechanics can easily get you in a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety which in turn negatively affects all other areas of your life.
One long standing breathing practice is Pranayama, which is often linked to meditation and yoga. So far I’ve been able to learn
Adham Pranayama (Abdominal Breath)
Nadhi Sodhana (Alternate Nostril Breath)
Surya and Chandra Bedhana Pranayama (Sun and Moon Piercing Breath)
Ujjayi Pranayama (Victorious or Conquering Breath)
The absolute basic technique that everyone should practice and internalise is abdominal breathing, if you are currently a more shallow “chest breather” this one practice can greatly improve the quality of your health. Obviously learning something new can feel overwhelming, and there are some good breathing workshops around to help.
One of these workshops is run by YogaInDailyLife, for which I recently attended. It includes stretching, pranayama breathing and meditation techniques. The instructors and very warm and welcoming and is held in a nice comfortable setting. You can check them out at www.yogaindailylife.org.uk
Yoga in Daily Life
What I enjoyed about this workshop was that we had plenty of time (4 hours) to go through the different techniques. Sometimes at shorter classes by the time your mind actually settles down the class is ending.
I’ll be honest I fall victim to modern days technology lifestyle and can get distracted easily and lose focus. While I meditate most days, the longest I’ve ever done is 20 minutes at a time. Doing a 4 hour workshop took me pretty far out of my comfort zone and I was pretty shocked at how fatigued I was by the end.
Often to really improve or learn you have to take yourself out of your comfort zone and expose your weaknesses. Not only did I learn the different breathing and meditation techniques, more importantly I learnt that I have pretty poor ability to focus or even sit still for longer periods. Life is about balance and as great it is to push hard and chase goals, we also need to be able to unwind and give our minds and body a break.
I will definitely be incorporation more mindfulness and breathing techniques during my day. For anyone interested I would highly recommend attending a workshop, as some techniques are easier to learn in person and in a dedicated group setting. Alternatively there are some pretty cool youtube videos, books and phone apps to get you started straight away.
App: Prana Breath