What is the breath? It is the intake of oxygen through the lungs to burn through fatty cells and produce energy. We also get rid of body waste like carbon dioxide through exhaling.
I remember walking past Lululemon when the new building in Kitsilano was under construction. I saw flashing red text which said “Breathe in. Breathe out.” Why do we need to be reminded to breathe? We’re not going to forget some day and faint.
We do, however, need to be reminded how to breathe. We need to be reminded to breathe deep into the belly and expand the lungs through the side ribs. We need to be reminded to breathe deeply and mindfully.
Most people take short, shallow breaths which may trigger a fight or flight response, where as deep, belly breathing calms the mind and helps the body relax.
When I teach my yoga classes I try to make the breath, rather than the pose, the primary objective. It is difficult, even in my own practice, to follow this to the letter but I try to make the breath the guide through the class. If the breath is shallow or you are holding your breath it is a warning sign. What you are doing is not working.
The same principal applies in life, just like in your yoga class. Your breath should be used, both to guide you and to assist you through life.
Have you ever had anxiety before a meeting, before public speaking, during a difficult conversation or during a difficult time in your life? Do you think that your breath was deep, slow and even? No, you will probably find that it was shallow and uneven.
The breath will guide you or react to your situation but you can also take control of your breath through deep mindful breathing and, though it cannot change the chance events that will happen in life, I guarantee you it will change how you react to them.
You can use your breath as a rudder through life to direct yourself mindfully in the direction you want to go. You can use it to slow down and think through a situation to make a true choice rather than a snap decision.
You can use the breath as a shield to carry you through life and difficult situations. If you make a conscious effort to use your breath every day it can be truly life changing. To take one, two or even five minutes every morning for some deep mindful breathing and also take the time to mindfully breathe when faced with a difficult situation.
Over time you will train yourself to use the breath as a solid foundation on which you can move through life.
So tomorrow morning take control of one of the most powerful tools you have and make it work for you. Rather living a life in a reactive mindset, use your breath to seize the present moment and steer your life in the direction you want.