Breath is the tool that connects your mind to your body, your body to your spirit and back again. But so many of us do not properly use this tool to bring health, balance and peace into our beings. Like most other things in our lives today, we rush our breath cycle and this can actually do more harm than good. Shallow, rapid breathing sends alarm signals throughout our body.
Prana is a Sanskrit (used in Yoga) word that interchangeably defines Breath, Life Force and Vital Energy - these sound important, and they are!
Breathing happens every moment of our lives, whether we think of it or not. If you take a few minutes each day to put some thought into the act of breathing you will be amazed by the positive effects this will have on your physical, emotional and mental health.
My favorite breathing exercise is to sit comfortably with a straight back, close my eyes and listen to the silence. I begin with an inhale and focus on the air as it enters my nose, comes to the back of my throat, down into my chest and further still all the way down to my belly. I hold it here for a brief moment and as I begin to exhale I work to slowly bring the breath up from my belly, to my chest, through my throat and out my nose. The whole cycle should be thoughtful and rhythmic - if the inhale is a count of 3, the exhale should be as well.
When first starting I begin with a 3 count inhale, 2 count hold and 3 count exhale, I would do this for 3-5 cycles. Over time I grew into an 8 count inhale, 5 count hold and 8 count exhale for 5-8 cycles.
Breathing takes practice if you want to get the most out of it; practice doesn't have to make perfect, it just has to keep you coming back to 'practice' daily.