Over the last few years I have noticed how much I place my emphasis on breathing. Sounds pretty silly since breathing is what signifies that we are alive right? I talk about the breath in class, I talk about the breath with my kids and now I use it in my doula practice. My daughter even wrote me a poem for Mother's day last year in which one line reads, "Mom who thinks breath conquers all".
My favorite saying is: "We have limited number of breaths in this lifetime, so why not make them the longest breaths you possibly can". Our breath is the one thing that indicates change in our true being. We shorten our breath when we are cold or scared. We hold our breath when something is difficult or we are focusing. Sometime we don't even realize we are holding our breath until our yoga teacher tells us "Remember to breathe".
A cleansing breath cleanses the body of tension and lets go of anything that we are holding onto. While in Labor, a cleansing breath clears the slate so that a woman can put one contraction behind them and prepare for the one that is coming. In our everyday life, we often use a cleansing breath involuntarily. Taking a deep breath and letting out a sigh of relief, mostly because we didn't realize we were holding our breath while we were concentrating on something else.
We often forget that our yoga has three parts: asana, pranayama and meditation. Pranayama allows for space and is intertwined throughout all parts of the practice. When we are practicing asana, we we take breaths throughout the practice. When we meditate, we breathe methodically. The practice of pranayama is mindful and profound. In the article by Pema Chodron, "Waking Up to Your World", she shows us how taking three breaths throughout your day can add space and provide presence during your usual activities of the day.
Begin your practice of taking 3 breaths and notice the clarity you gain in that particular moment. As you continue to add the 3 breaths into more of your day, notice how this changes and affects your day. And remember to make those breaths the longest possible breaths that you possibly can......