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  • Writer's pictureIrene Brahms

Breathe!

Breathe!


Breathing - we do it automatically, but when we truly attend to our breath, we can enhance our wellbeing.


Controlled breathing, sometimes known as yogic breath or mindful breathing, can help regulate emotions, lessen symptoms associated with anxiety and insomnia and even

reduce chronic pain. Mindful breathing influences both physiological factors (by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system) and psychological factors (by diverting attention from thoughts). Although the practice of breath regulation, also known as pranayama, is a main component of yoga, you don’t need to be a yogi to reap its benefits.


Try it now!


Close your eyes as you take a steady breath in through both nostrils, inhaling until you reach your lung capacity; maintain a tall spine. Hold your breath for a second, and then exhale slowly through both nostrils, constricting the back of your throat as if you were going to fog a mirror. Repeat several times. Keeping your eyes closed, return to your natural breath and notice how you feel inside.


There are many breathing techniques to enjoy. Try “4x8 Breath”: Close your eyes or softly gaze at a stationary point. Inhale to the count of 4. Briefly pause at the top, then exhale to the count of 8. Repeat at least four times.


A deep dive into the fascinating scientific, cultural, spiritual, and evolutionary history of the way humans breathe can be found in journalist James Nestor’s popular-science book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art (2020, Penguin Life). Nestor explores the hidden science behind ancient breathing practices like Pranayama, Tummo and Sudarshan Kriya. The latter is a daily practice discovered by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of The Art of Living Foundation.


Want to learn more? Visit:


Or, take the free online 75 minute introduction to SKY Breath Meditation found on the Art of Living website: Discover the effective approach to meditation through breath. (artofliving.org)


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