Breath is the key to our biology as well as our spiritual nature. Without it, ambulance we do not survive; with it, website like this we thrive, and combined with awareness, we awaken. Breath is not just oxygen; it is the vehicle for the subtle life force to enliven us as it passes through the currents of the breath. How we breathe not only directly affects our health but we also entrain others with it, just like being angry or happy affects those around us.
The ancients paid more attention to the breath. In fact the root of our word breath in Latin is respire (re) – return, (spiritus) – the spirit: each breath is the return of spirit. Ancient yogis of India called breath prana, which means the subtle life force of the Universe. The Confucius Masters warned us not to confuse the outer breath of oxygen with the inner breath, chi or energy.
As the key to our biology, a deep, full breath provides us with incredible amounts of energy, vitality and clarity; a shallow breath pattern promotes anxiety and stress, accelerates the aging process and becomes the greatest contributor for dis-ease. Every one of the body’s systems from detoxification, to burning fat to moving the lymph requires oxygen. A consistent, shallow breath means the body doesn’t have enough fuel to eliminate toxins and fats so it stores them. When this becomes a chronic pattern, organs shut down and dis-ease sets in.
Most of us are not taught to breathe fully; when we are shown how to use the complete respiratory system we bring health back to parts of our body that had become stagnant from years of shallow breathing. Deep breathing uses the diaphragm and the intercostals muscles (the muscles between the ribs); the diaphragm stimulates a gentle massage of the abdominal organs, the intercostals muscles massage the lungs and heart. Without this vital internal massage, common ailments arise such as a sluggish digestive track/ colon, lower back tension, stagnation in the reproductive organs, heart ailments and more. The abdominal region in eastern medicine is also known as our true source of power, creativity and ability to trust in all of life. By breathing diaphragmatically we innately connect with being grounded, creative and peaceful.
Your breath tells the story of how you live. Check now to see where your breath starts. Put four fingers below your belly button, and a hand on your heart, can you feel any movement? The inhalation is about taking in vital energy, are you saying ‘yes’ to life? If so, you can feel full movement in those four fingers. Does the breath expand up to your chest? Or are your shoulder muscles chronically tight? Where the breath doesn’t go, these areas become stressed; when the breath is deep and full, it revitalizes the whole body with it’s deep internal massage.
The exhalation tells how well we let go of what we no longer need; can we release what we don’t like or do we push it away? Can we relax into the flow of life? How do we handle fear, or pain when it arises? Are we living vitally and aligned with a sense of purpose?
Breath is life; Andrew Weil, a doctor known for bridging eastern and western medicine says this, “Whenever there is any disharmony in the body, physical, dis-ease, illness: the first place you should look is to see how you’re breathing. Breathing is the master key to self-healing. It is the doorway into every system of the body, determines whether we’re stuck in flight or fight, or are able to rest and balance ourselves.” Breathe deeply and be healthy, enjoy your breath.