Breath and spirit
Your breath tells you like no other how you are doing. The relationship we have with our breath is perhaps one of the most intimate relationships we have. However, often we are not so aware of our breath. It is only when we are out of breath, have difficulty breathing or choke that we notice our breath. Your breath, in Latin ‘spirit’, literally gives you spirit. To live.
According to yoga and Ayurveda, breath and your life energy, your spirit, are connected. The ancient yogis measured man’s lifespan not in years, but in the number of breaths. There is literally no life without breath. You enter this world with an inhale and leave it with an exhale. In between there is a whole life: your life.
We store what we experience in life as human beings in the form of memories. And based on those memories, we make choices in new situations. Memories that we may not always be aware of, but that form the compass. Memories can be cognitive and can also be stored in our body. What we store in our system helps us respond to unsafe situations by recognizing them. However, sometimes the responses based on what you have saved are no longer relevant or supportive, but your system has not yet integrated this knowledge. It can then hinder you in living your life to the fullest and making new choices.
Breathe – anno ‘now’
In authentic yoga and Ayurveda, the breath is an important means you have to allow your energy, also called prana in yoga, to flow and concentrate in your system. In addition, modern science tells us in contemporary terms that our breathing affects our nervous system and vice versa.
A calm, deep and even breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system. It sends a signal to your brain that it is safe, so that your system knows that it is no longer necessary to use a fight, flight or freeze response. The stress response is reduced.
Breath and authentic yoga
Through a number of very simple and mild breathing principles, blockages, patterns or stuck emotions in the body can be softened or removed. This allows space in your system for new experiences and steps in a very natural way, without forcing anything. Space for your breath ánd spirit.
‘Now’ yoga begins
In authentic yoga, the physical movement follows the breath. Your breath is the basis for the natural movement of your body. The breath is leading in this so that yoga becomes an integrated whole of body and mind and goes beyond copying physical postures of a yoga teacher. Whereby the physical and mental strength arises from your own sensitive receptivity. In this game with the breath, the mind, your nervous system and breath respond directly to each other. Every time you connect with your breath you may notice that your thinking becomes quieter. That there is room to be present in this moment. And there: yoga begins. Your yoga.
for integrating prana and breathing
in your yoga practice
Your breath can tell you a lot about how you are doing and what you need.
Do you notice that you are holding your breath, or that you are unable to keep the breath even? Take a step back, choose a pose in which this works. It is the integration of breath, posture and mind that makes yoga possible.
‘Envelop’ the movement with your breath: Start the inhalation and exhalation before the movement and make sure you have breathing space left at the end of the movement. An example:
- Only after the start of the inhalation raise your arms sideways above the head.
- Clasp the hands together above the head
- Throughout the movement, breathing is soft, smooth, and even.
- The inhalation continues for a short while after the movement has stopped.
The entire movement takes place within your breathing space.
- Follow the same steps for the exhale
- Don’t you complete the movement within your breath?
Speed up the movement or choose an easier movement.
- For advanced yogis: use gentle Ujjayi breathing
Originally yoga is taught individually, according to who you are.
An expert mentor in authentic yoga can personally guide you in this.
Do you want to know more or personal advice?
You are welcome in our heart of yoga retreats (in Dutch) or in individual guidance & yoga therapy (in Dutch or English).
Juliette Reniers is (with Frank Eijkelkamp) owner of Yoga & Ayurveda retreat center The Land of Now, and Ayurvedic therapist, psychosocial counsellor and yoga therapist & teacher.