Breath is life

The breath is like the sky, so omnipresent that we almost forget it's there until it
does something astounding like change colour before our eyes; or when cloud
spotting, we see a magical kingdom emerge and a horse seems to gallop
right out of the cotton candy cloud it was nestled in; or when the crack of
thunder and bolt of lightning snap us into the electric brilliance of the present
moment. Then the sky is anything but background scenery. It becomes the
main event and takes us by the force of its NOW energy into the eternal
present. In between those moments, the sky holds our connection to life by
providing a place for the sun, moon, and stars to hang and upon which we
can plant the seeds of our dreams. The sky is like one of those clear plastic
umbrellas that keeps us grounded and shielded from the overwhelming
expanse that is space, yet it is also the window to the vastness of the cosmos
and stimulates ponderings on the nature of existence. The sky has always
been there, like our breath.
The breath is like the sky for its many unsung moments. There is no switch
for either, they exist independently and yet it is by their existence that we
can exist. From the first inhale, which could be called the inspiration to live,
to our last exhale, which is the ultimate surrender and letting go, the breath
is our companion.
As we grow, evolve, and explore the world, as we shift, change, and
reinvent, as we love, lose, and love again, there is the breath.
When we turn our inner gaze upon our breath and begin to notice it, feel it.
hear it, enjoy it, we experience life in a different way. On a physical level, yogic
science says that we can improve the functioning of the body by cleansing
the 72,000 energy channels or nadis. These channels of energy move our life force (prana) and when they are cleansed, they stay fluid and clear like a fresh, beautifully running river. When we practice pranayama (controlling the flow of breath), we are enriching our blood with more oxygen, which purifies the blood and supports healthy functioning of the respiratory system. Additionally, we fuel the burning of glucose. These actions produce energy, which gives power to the muscular contractions of the body. If we want to climb a mountain, we must consider our breathing capacity and our body must respond efficiently to give us
the energy and strength required. If we want to relax, we can turn to the breath as well. It is a centerpiece to all that we are and all that we do and is connected to every aspect of human experience, yet we often don't think of it at all.
We live in a wonderful age of expansion and understanding where it is
becoming widely recognized by traditional, functional, and alternative
medical practitioners and healing specialists that breath practice can reduce
anxiety and depression, lower stress levels, balance blood pressure, increase
energy levels, improve sleep, and aid in pain management, among other
On a spiritual level the breath, as with the sky, forges a bond with the
unseen wonder of being alive. It is as basic to our experience as it gets--no
breath no life- and yet it is ever mysterious. Where does the breath come
from? It's a constant reminder of the divine-source energy force field in which
we live and that we are ultimately not in charge. What ever we believe we can all agree that without breath we do not exist and that each breath is a precious gift.


- This is an edited excerpt from The Power of Breath and Hand Yoga by Christine Burke
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