Have you ever asked yourself or wondered if you are breathing correctly? The chances are you aren’t. Stress, mental worries, physical tensions, weight issues, acute or chronic health concerns, pollution in the immediate environment, viruses, bacteria………..numerous factors affect us every day, and your normal breathing may not be the truly natural way to breathe. So how do you know? The following guidelines will help you become aware of your breathing pattern.
How does the breath feel? Is it smooth and regular? Deep or shallow? Quiet or noisy? Heavy or light? Does it flow like a gentle moving stream, or does it suddenly hit rocks of tension and anxiety? Pay attention to any images or feelings that arise that will indicate its quality.
Where do you feel the breath? Can you feel the breath entering and leaving your nostrils? Or your mouth? Or both? Do you feel it in your chest, your back, your hands, your feet? Anywhere else? Remember, at this point there is no right or wrong, you are only noting what is happening.
Which part of the body moves as you breathe? Lie down and place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Take a few normal breaths. Relax and don’t force the breathing. Now pay attention to your hands. Which hand is rising higher than the other? Where do you feel more movement? A baby breathes from its abdomen. As we age we tend to get lazy and use only our lower lubes and then upper lubes of our lungs. Move your hands to your ribcage. Do both sides move equally? Now check your sternum. What’s that doing?
How slow or fast do you breathe? How many breaths do you take per minute? When you are relaxed and calm count your exhales for one minute. Some Indian yogis claim that we are all born with a certain number of breaths and when we have used them all up, we die.
Do the above steps once or twice a week for a month. Record them and observe any variations. The act of observing the breath changes it. Body awareness helps to shift energy away from everyday worries and tensions and to become more attentive to our physical needs.
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