Breath: A key ingredient for the practicing Yogi

By Melanie Kiss

In a world full of chaos and fast paced life, one tends to forget sometimes about the important things such as breathing. Many of us practice yoga and don’t even think about the importance of our breath during asanas. Learning to breathe. Let go. 

Breathing is something we do so naturally every second of everyday…or let’s face it life would cease. We forget about what a miracle it is to be able to breathe in air and expel it without any difficulty or thought. What the trees are exhaling we are inhaling at this precise moment. This transaction is on going whether you have thought about it. We are all connected. So while breathing is a natural, involuntary process, we are also capable of voluntarily controlling it. 

Our emotions are tied to our breathing. Not just the rate of inhalation and exhalation, but also our anatomy. When we are stressed and anxious, our breathing rate increases and we utilize the upper portion of our lungs. When we are calm and relaxed, our breathing rate slows and we tend to take deeper breaths. However, long term stress and anxiety can bring about a learned breathing habit, that we get so used to it becomes the norm. 

There are many different breathing techniques we can practice on our own or more importantly during our Yoga practice. Proper breathing is essential for our physical body, the mind and our emotions. When one practices deep, mindful breathing, we are essentially retraining our body to be in a calm, relaxed state of being. 

One might ask why this is important for the Yogi during practice. Well, one of the most beneficial reasons to engage in deep breathing during your asanas is to bring the mind back to the body, to the present moment. Mindful Yoga is the reason we do Yoga to begin with. It is not just a “stretch” class, it is a practice of mind, physical body which in turn leads to an outcome of connecting to the spirit. Each movement, from one asana to the next should entail one slow deep breath. This allows you to create a fluid-like movement, where you become connected and one— the definition of yoga. 

Deep breathing allows you to let go of resistance and the past and fully enter into the present moment. Can it be a challenge sometimes? Most definitely. But practice makes perfect. Once you bring deep breathing into your asanas, your practice will become that much more mindful and refreshing, opening yourself to a new world, called the present moment. Which is all we ever have. 

So Breathe. Let go. Refresh. And never go a day without mindful breathing during your Yoga practice. 

“Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body”

-Thich Nhat Hanh