Breathing is such an important part of yoga. Yoga helps us to become aware of our breath and to notice the effect of the breath on the body and the mind.
Breathing is an automatic process, which is affected by the health of our body and our mind. When our mind is feeling stressed and anxious, our breath reflects this by being shallow, short and fast. Taking slow, deep, calm, even breaths can help to calm the mind and relax the body, reducing stress and balancing emotions. As such, the breath is an important link between our unconscious, automatic systems and our conscious, thinking brain. It is unusual because it is one of the only autonomic systems which we are able to consciously control and this means we are able to have a conscious effect on our mental state and our emotions by learning to consciously control the breath.
In yoga we can practice healthy breathing exercises, which help to strengthen the chest and breathing muscles, help to improve the capacity of our lungs and also help us to develop more healthy breathing habits. Additionally, focusing on the breath helps us to be more mindfully focused on the present moment.
In class this week we will be focusing on the breath, moving with the breath, using the breath to help us relax and helping to build healthy breathing habits.