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Monday, July 7, 2008

The power of breath

I know the topic of breathing seems to be a simple one..…we need to do it to stay alive!
Until starting a devoted yoga practice about 5 years ago, I never really paid all that much attention to my breath. With each and every yoga class, there was an underlying theme throughout: breathing.

It all begins with another seemingly simple topic: awareness. Just the act of noticing your breath is a huge deal. Really. Basic as it may be, paying attention to how you breathe throughout the day will teach you so much. Do you hold your breath when you feel stressed? Angry? Exercising? There are too many moments to count. We breathe a lot. As in all the time.
Yet most of us are not breathing fully, expansively, powerfully. And it all begins with the simple act of PAYING ATTENTION.

I vividly remember starting to take deeper, fuller breaths, and being aware of breathing into my body fully. It was one of those transitions where I thought- I wonder what I was like before? Did I always just breathe into my upper chest? I was just getting into a regular practice in Boston, and after having a particularly enjoyable session one morning, I walked out onto the busy street. I suddenly realized that I felt lighter, taller…and even HAPPIER! Imagine that. Changing your mood with your breath. My chiropractor took note of these changes and said- Hey, you look taller! What have you been doing?

I will not tell you how/where/why to breath. I just want you to start to PAY ATTENTION to HOW you breathe. Does it feel like you have no room? Are you able to take a full, deep breath without lifting your shoulders to your ears? Do you pay attention to breathing when you run, bike, swim, chase your kids, or get a massage?

I am sure that you have all had a massage therapist along the road tell you to breathe. We ask you to do this because it helps the muscle tissue to relax. Basically, it makes our job easier (we don’t have to fight with your muscles!) and your treatment more effective.

So, all that I ask is that you pay attention. I will be writing more on this topic in the future!

Written by Katrina Baker, LMT, NCTM

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