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How a Few Breaths a Day Can Change You
How a Few Breaths a Day Can Change You

Stress. Anxiety. Depression. Chronic illness. My guess is that you know a person or two (or three or thirty-three) who suffer from one or more of these conditions. There is a simple way to begin feeling better though – from the inside out – and I am living, breathing proof. Simple does not mean easy though; this step requires patience, deliberateness, and a bit of self love. In yoga teacher training, we focused on studying Yoga asanas, meditation, and yogic philosophy, of course, but it was the conscious breathing (pranayama) that changed my life in the long run.

Breathing is so easy, right? Babies do it, kids do it, all animals do it. If there’s one thing in this life that we know how to do, it’s breathing, right?

Wrong.

Sure, we all breathe. Without a thought, our lungs expel and replenish air. In and out, in and out, every day, all day. But, does that mean you actually know how to breathe, with intention, with consciousness, and in a way that can and will change your life for the better?

How We’ve Stopped Breathing
American culture has made it not only acceptable, but somehow almost redeemable to be rushed, multi-task-oriented, and stressed out, as though the more chaos we have in our lives, the more we “win” (I’m not sure what we win, but clearly we must think we’ll win something.). We pack our days with work and activities, we pressure ourselves to do more – more favors, more projects, more socializing, more working out, more, more, more. And I can’t mention our cultural busyness without also recognizing technology. We (and in this, I wholeheartedly include myself) have become highly dependent on and in many cases addicted to the buzzing, lit-up, socially-and-professionally-”connected” world of iPhones, iPads, laptops, and giant TV’s, which often distract, complicate, and overstimulate our already-active minds and lives. Add with this cultural norm that we now face combined with the the pressures of making ends meet during a recession, and … voile! In the chaos, we have forgotten how to breathe with intention, experience silence, sit still, and and simply be.

How This Affects Us
This culture of habitual stress leads to high blood pressure, heart failure, skin ailments, susceptibility to colds and flus, and perhaps worst of all, irritability, depression, and anxiety. And an ill or emotionally drained person is a less productive, less loving, less happy person.

A Few Breaths A Day Keeps The Chaos at Bay

My Challange to You: Take 2

I challenge you today to find and commit to two minutes a day when you can be alone and focus on your breath. If you’re wondering when in the world you’ll find two more minutes in your cramped day, I then challenge you to wake up two minutes earlier. Take those minutes to breathe. Listen to your breath. Feel your breath. Just notice it. Sit in that silence, even if it feels uncomfortable at first.

How Breathing Can Change Your Life
- Slow breathing helps your stressed-out nervous system rest and regenerate.
- Focused deep breathing can help your heart to function with more ease.
- Deep breathing oxygenates your cells and organs, which may be deprived of vitality due to shallow, stressed breathing.
- Spending just a few minutes a day in conscious breathing is an opportunity to connect with yourself, something we often forget to do or lose sight of in our busy lives.

After a moment of quiet breathing, you’ll feel more grounded, which will make facing the day’s challenges or busy-ness that much easier. With practice, a few minutes of deep slow breathing a day can lead to longer stretches of time when you can breathe consciously with patience, and this can lead to feelings of peacefulness, relaxation, and centeredness.

Slow down, notice your breath, and discover how a few conscious breaths a day can start to change your life.

“Inhale, and Life approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and Life remains with you. Exhale, and you approach Life.” ~Krishnamacharya

 

 

By Anitra Lahiri


Anitra Lahiri is an avid Yogi, Yoga Instructor, mother, and writer who strives (and often fails!) to infuse all aspects of her life with Yoga philosophy and practice. Her Yoga blog, Under the Lotus Tree, is for anyone who simply wants to live a healthier, more meaningful life. Read more from Anitra at her blog -  underthelotustree.com.


Start practicing deep breathing with following classes from YogaDownload:


Yin Yoga - Elise Fabricant 


Alternate Nostril Breathing - Natalie Maisel 



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