We all have one thing in common. We breathe an average of 23,400 times per day. But when was the last time you really paid attention to your breath? Most of us take breathing for granted and underestimate its ability to heal us on numerous levels.
I recently adopted a breathing practice called Pranayama. While I have certainly done various forms of breath work in the past, nothing has been as transformative as this! Thanks to a friend who dragged me along to a class, I was hooked immediately. From my very first session, I noticed an intense shift in my emotional and spiritual world. So much so that I have committed to doing it daily and am now sharing it with clients and friends.
Pranayama breath comes from the Yoga tradition and the version I enjoy is simply breathing in through the mouth, into the diaphragm and then the chest and out again through the mouth. It is done in a rhythmic motion of three breaths. Into the diaphragm, into the chest and out through the mouth.
At first, it feels like hard work. Often people feel lightheaded or tingly especially in the hands and arms along with experiencing restriction or mild pain in certain areas of their body. But after a while your breathing takes on a mind of its own. You begin to relax more deeply and many people disappear into a deep meditative state.
What I love about this breathing technique is that it combines both an active participation along with a surrendered relaxation which is great for those people who have a challenge sitting still in a regular meditation practice.
Lie down and get comfortable, light a candle, use essential oils and choose your favorite music. Begin with 5-10 minutes per day and work your way up to a 30 to 40-minute practice which combines 20-30 minutes of deep, powerful breathing followed by slower nostril breaths for approximately 10 minutes.
This practice will often bring up intense emotions. It will help rid your body of physical blocks along with emotional and spiritual ones too. It’s not uncommon to have bursts of crying, laughter, or anger during your sessions which are all signs of releasing toxic or stored up emotions that we hold onto without even realizing. I have also felt the energy points in my body known as chakras spinning, throbbing, and opening. I often find myself sweating, extremely hungry, and filled with an overwhelming joy and sense of gratitude afterwards. It is like nothing I’ve experienced before.
Breathing techniques like this have been used for people in recovery from alcohol and drugs as well as for those dealing with illness such as cancer.
Here are just a few of the numerous benefits of doing Pranayama breathing:
- Oxygen – Feeding our cells oxygen is vital to creating a healthy body. Oxygen assists our system in detoxing and fighting off potential cancer cells. It also creates a more alkaline environment off-setting acidity which has been linked to numerous illnesses.
- Reduced Stress, Anxiety and Depression – Studies have shown that those who participate in regular breathing sessions have a lower incidence of anxiety and depression along with experiencing less reaction to stressful situations.
- Lower/Stabilized Blood Pressure – Increased oxygen lowers blood pressure and may even lower blood sugar levels as well.
- Increased Energy Levels – Often people report an increase in overall physical stamina after participating in an extended breath session. Once again, oxygen feeds our cells and in turn, creates ATP which is essential for energy.
- Muscle Relaxation – More oxygen means more blood flow to our muscles which assists in a quicker recovery and often a speedier healing time for those dealing with injury, post-surgery, or for athletes with lactic acid buildup.
- Emotional Healing – A regular breath work practice can literally unblock stored up emotions, fears, and traumas from our body often leaving us feeling euphoric.
- Spiritual Healing – Yogis have known for thousands of years that regular deep breathing can literally open up blocked chakras or energy points within our body helping us to live with more balance, joy, and freedom.
If you’ve been struggling to find a regular spiritual practice and you’ve tried numerous things that don’t resonate, I highly recommend that you explore Pranayama breathing.
To get started, research local breathing classes in your area. Sometimes joining a group can make it more enjoyable. Find a skilled teacher along with a powerful soundtrack, and you too can have a life-changing experience.
I can’t emphasize enough just how powerful this practice can be. Breathe like your life depends on it because in all honesty, it does!
Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles. http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com
He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!