The Healing Power Of Breath
“When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath.”
It is widely known in Eastern religions that breath is essential to all life. When we take our first breath as an infant we begin life and just before we die our bodies take their last breath. Our minds, our bodies and our breaths are all connected and through this connection, we influence how we live and think. When we learn the secrets to breathing consciously, we can restore balance to both the body and mind.
The power contained in our breath is what connects us to the environment. Most people are unaware of what a proper breathing approach can do for their health. We stay alive because our breath gives our bodies what they need to survive but we can strengthen this nourishment to the body and power it with a huge bolt of energy to enhance our life force.
In ancient societies, the art of breathing was an important part of spiritual life. There are many types of breathing practices used for healing purposes and these types of breathing were viewed as a link between nature and the mind as well as the body and the human psyche.
The healing power of breath goes back to ancient India where the term prana was used to describe our physical breath as well as air itself but it goes much deep er than that. It was the sacred essence of all life. It is also known as Qi, an important part of traditional Chinese medicine.
The Healthy Benefits Of Deep Breathing
“Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.”
Eastern religious monks have known for centuries the healing power that deep breathing brings to both the body and mind. They have been documented to help with the following:
- A reduction in anxiety and depression
- Decreased stress and overwhelm
- Increased energy
- Lower blood pressure
- Relaxation of muscles
- Mind and mood harmony
- Increase in self control
- Enhanced meditation
- Removal of toxic waste from the body
Deep breathing exercises have a huge impact on both the body and mind. By reducing stress to all parts of the body, stress hormones such cortisol and adrenaline cannot take their toll on the body. These deep breathing exercises create a sense of calm which slows the heart down and keeps your blood pressurized at it’s optimum level.
These deep breaths that the body takes slows down the turbulence that has build from emotional upheavals. Learning the right techniques can have an immediate effect on your emotional state so you are not prone to over stimulating the brain with negative energy.
Deep breathing brings about a change in consciousness that has a profound effect on the spiritual side of the individual In Buddhism, meditation known Anapanasati or “mindfulness of breathing” is used as a way to find nirvana. The Buddha taught that you should not only be mindful of how you breathe but use breathing to become aware of your entire body and your experiences. This type of breathing is in direct contrast to the pranayama practices where the rigorous controlling the breath is used.
Healing Breath Meditation
To achieve a notion of serenity in life we need to monitor our breathing. The average person is constantly in stress breathing mode (about 15-20 breaths per minute). The stress and anxieties of everyday life can be released naturally with the aid of healing breath meditation. using healing breath meditation turns on the body’s natural healing capacities. Grounding yourself in meditation with specific techniques can influence every aspect of your life.
A healthy breather trains themselves by using simple yogic breathing techniques to affect each and every part of the body. There are four types of breathing techniques you can use to have a positive influence on how you feel physically. They can also be used to heal the mind of the day’s stress. According to Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist, “Healing is every breath.”
Here are the four Types of Healing Breath You can learn:
- Complete Belly Breath – By using your abdominal muscles, slowly inhale through your nose, bringing air down into the bottom of your lungs. Expand your lungs as you inhale, pausing to follow your breath. Finally, contract your abdominal muscles so you push out all the air. Always be mindful of your breath and where it is coming from.
- Ocean’s Breath – This is used for an immediate soothing and settling of a troubled mind. Inhale deeper than a normal breath. Keeping your mouth closed, exhale through your nose as you constrict your throat muscles.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing – Also known as Nadi Shodhana. This brings calmness into your life. Hold your right thumb over your right nostril and inhale deeply through the other nostril. When you are at the peak of inhalation, exhale through your right nostril. Do this for 3-5 minutes while alternating between each nostril.
- Energizing Breath – For those who are depressed or sluggish, this breathing exercise gives you an immediate surge of energy. Relax your shoulders and take full deep breaths from your abdomen. Take 20 deep, forceful breaths from your diaphragm as your body stays still. All breathing comes from your belly. Continue in 30 second spurts as you concentrate on the breathing.
Yoga Pranayama Breathing
“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. “
Thích Nhất Hạnh
We can optimize our breath to prepare our body and mind for meditation. One type of deep breathing is called Pranayama Breathing. Pranayama comes from the two words, prana, which means life force and yama, which means control.
There are four stages of pranayama breathing:
- Arambha – the awakening stage
- Ghata – stage of three sariras or bodies, which consist of the gross body, the subtle body and casual body.
- Parichay – the stage where you experience the true knowledge and essence contained in pranayama.
- Nispatti – the stage where you go beyond your physical body and unite with the supreme.
The idea of pranayama is to take the nourishing energy and transform the body . When you exhale, you get rid of the toxic carbon dioxide and replace with life giving oxygen. Maintaining a balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen is the goal of practicing this technique. Learning how to control and optimize your breathing patterns may sound easy to the beginner but there is a complex interaction that happens. By engaging in pranayama, breathing becomes a vital exercise which harmonizes the body with the mind’s vibrations and creating a balanced state.
The further you take pranayama, the better your body functions. Most of us do not know how to breathe and use only a fraction of our lung capacity. With pranayama breathing, we learn how to correct the body’s complications with ease and enhance your breathing techniques.
Your breath should flow naturally and without judgment. Pranayama breathing helps your breathing patterns become part of your natural rhythm and this is your secret to overcoming a lack of vital energy, stress and anxiety.
Deep breathing brings clarity to the mind and body and gives the human condition a way to heal itself. Breathing is the first step in gaining control of your life. According to Swami Swatmarama, “When breath is unsteady, the mind is unsteady. When the breath is steady, the mind is steady, and the yogi becomes steady. therefore, one should restrain the breath.”
A clear mind and a strong heart comes from a powerful belief in God. When we meditate on the power of God there is nothing we cannot do!