Breathing: Full Participation in Life

"Our breath is constantly rising and falling, ebbing and flowing, entering and leaving our bodies. Full body breathing is an extraordinary symphony of both powerful and subtle movements that massage our internal organs, oscillate our joints, and alternately tone and release all the muscle in the body. It is a full participation in life." The Breath That Moves Us, Donna Farhi

Questions often come up about dizziness in yoga and especially sun salutations. With the up and down of Sura Namaskar or sun salutations (head above and below heart quickly), those with high or low blood pressure will find discomfort and may choose to avoid them. However, when the breath is used in a mindful way, generally, the body will flow more easily and with proper use of breath, the lightheadedness will lessen.

Here's the science behind it: The Valsalva Maneuver occurs when the breath is held while a great deal of force is exerted. The glottis at the back of the throat closes when you hold your breath which increases pressure in the chest cavity (intrathoracic pressure) and cuts off blood flow back to the heart (venous return). With less blood flow to the brain, you could be come faint or dizzy.

The ability to perceive our breath and how it effects our movement takes time. Generally, inhale as the body lengthens (eccentric phase); Exhale as the body contracts (concentric phase).

Take a few minutes, finding a quiet place to sit comfortably or stand. Breath as you normally do and ask yourself: Can you feel your breath? Is it shallow, short, rhythmical or ...? Begin flowing arms up and down with the breath. Inhale arms up, exhale arms down. Notice any change in the breath pattern.

"Developmental patterns-- Breathing the first pattern lays the foundation for all the other succeeding patterns. Wherever the breathing is blocked in the body, future patterns will be blocked: whenever the breathing is free, the future patterns will develop efficiently." B. Cohen

Ms. Cohen was talking about movement, but I feel like she's speaking to my life today. Without even realizing it, I'm holding my breath again. Waiting and wondering what's around the corner rather than focusing on my current state of breath (awareness). Breathing is truly a full participation in the game of life. I want to play!




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