Yoga & Meditation
My yoga teacher tells this story: when a child is born, the number of breaths that the child will take in this life is predetermined; once the child has used up all his breaths, he passes on from this life to the next. Therefore, if you breathe more slowly, it will take you longer to use up your allocated breaths and you will live a longer life.
While this is clearly just a “story,” it expresses something that scientific observation has now confirmed: if we can learn to slow our breathing, we are healthier, more relaxed, more creative and happier human beings. This is why meditation has become known as a one of the most effective means of achieving self-realization and physical health in today’s stress-filled world. It can help us move into a state of higher consciousness and change our lives for the better. We can manage stress better, improve mind-body awareness, and achieve a sense of integration and wholeness. This is the path to enlightenment.
In yoga, breath is connected to life energy, or “prana”. It is the breath of life that brings “prana” into our very beings. Long deep breathing is the most fundamental yogic breathing technique. It can be used in everyday situations to calm your mind, control your emotions, help you think clearly and act effectively. Remember- the slower you breathe the calmer your mind.
To practice long deep breathing, try this: Lie flat on your back. As you gently press down on your abdomen, exhale every last bit of air out of your body through your nose, keeping your mouth closed. Inhale deeply through your nose and feel as though you are pulling the breath down into your naval center. As the breath then starts to fill the lungs, your diaphragm will expand and your abdomen will move outward as if it were a balloon filling with air. Keep inhaling until you have taken in as much air as your lungs can hold. Your body will be expanded. Exhale through your nose, emptying the lungs completely and feeling the abdomen moving down. Continue to take note of your breathing - observing how the abdomen moves up on the intake and down on the exhale. Consciously attempt to breathe slowly and deeply, feeling the breath going all the way down to the naval and emptying the lungs completely on the exhale.
Notice as the breath slows down, the mind slows as well. Continue for 3 minutes at first and gradually increase to 11 minutes. See how peaceful and mentally clear you feel! Long deep breathing is a self-healing tool. Air is free. Make the most of it! Practice regularly and you will strengthen your immune system, balance your central nervous system, cleanse your digestive system and add years of health, inner peace, and joyfulness to your life!
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