|Breathing like a MoFo|
There are so many components to breath that it can be hard to choose a main focus.
Am I concerned with the anatomical and physiological aspects of the breath?
In that case, I could talk about the movement of the diaphragm, the muscular support from the thoracic cavity, the role of the spine, potential positions of the tongue and throat, oxygenation of the blood and cells, etc.
If I want to focus on breathing in meditation, then I would be concerned with breath as a tool for concentration, controlling the breath to be even and equal, breath retention, lengthening inhales or exhales for achieving certain outcomes; again potential for lengthy and heady dialogue.
I think one of the loveliest things about the breath worth discussing here is its magnificent simplicity coupled with its enormous complexity. Ah yoga, you slay me with your dualities. In its simplest form, breath is just one inhale followed by one exhale. This pattern repeated over and over thousands upon thousands of times is our life-sustaining mechanism. No breath, no life. At its most complex, breathing performs so many functions for the body that it's overwhelming to consider them all.
The ancient yogis were aware of the energetic potential of breath and devised exercises to use it for the purposes of enlightenment. These complex ways to move breath are out of the scope of this current post but the fact that breath has such a capability is certainly worth noting. Using breath in this way--controlling, moving energy, containing--is what is known as pranayama which is the fifth limb of raja yoga.
The breath is one bodily function over which we have control. Think about it, you can't control your heartbeat or your digestion, but you can direct your breath to an area of the body, lengthen or shorten it, be a belly breather or a chest breather, and practice any number of types of pranayama. Isn't that completely fascinating and moves you to get out there and get your breath on?
In the coming posts, I intend to explore some specific ways to breathe so that you may have a more aware, more present and more healthful existence.
See you then.