Yoga is a state of breathing that takes you into the present moment - the only place life exists. Without having to think much about it, our body’s innate ability to provide us with life happens every time we breathe in and out. But how conscious we are to these innate actions will determine the quality of our breath and the capacity to which it can help us respond to life, relax and heal.
Breathing is movement and blood is breath. If we are holding physical tension anywhere in the body - the hips, back, or shoulders - or emotional tension in the throat, heart or gut, our blood is not fully nourishing these areas because the breath does not have total access.
Becoming present with your breath - purposely filling your body with Prana, or life-force, is the only way to create nourishment, energy and vitality within the breath. Our bodies adapt to any movements we make, including those that happen as we breathe. Every time we consciously inhale we open our lungs and rib cage with vital oxygen, garnering the resources necessary to bring energy into our physical and emotional body. Every conscious inhalation is a natural time to receive. Consequently, a natural time to act happens every time we intently exhale or release vital oxygen into our physical and emotional body.
Given that breath is movement, the “receiving and acting patterns” of the breath can be seen along our spine. Every time we draw vital oxygen in, our spine naturally lengthens and when we release that oxygen into our body, our spine naturally relaxes. Therefore, the simple act of becoming present with your breath can influence your posture for the better.
Our posture responds to tension-holding by forward-bending or slouching. This is evident in the way we stand, sit, and even exercise, when we are not paying attention to our breath. When we open the ribcage with conscious inhalation our spine lengthens, helping us to open and deliver nourishment to our heart and brain. And when we consciously exhale our internal systems receive a boost and the nervous systems receives the messages of calm and relaxation. Simply being present with your breath helps you deliver nourishment to your whole mind-body internal landscape and can lessen feelings of depletion and stress.
Allow yourself five minutes each day, seated or standing, without the distractions of external stimuli, simply creating Prana and breathing that life force into your mind and body. Draw slow and smooth inhalations up through your nostrils, and with the same pace and depth, channel your exhalations down through the back of your throat. As you breathe in this way, focus your awareness around your rib cage and along the spinal column. Pay attention to the postural changes influenced by your breath and remain present to how you are feeling. Return to this exercise as often as you need.
Your best posture is your next posture and your best breath is the breath that is happening right now!