The importance of breathIn this months blog post, Joanne Murphy one of our lovely Yoga Teachers here at Hands on Health, shares with us her thoughts on the importance of breath.

It’s quite easy to overlook the importance of the breath. It’s just something that happens naturally, we do it unconsciously. However, once we focus on our breath we can begin to tap into its great power. Bringing our awareness to our breath can help us to become more mindful and present in our everyday lives.

In my yoga classes I often explain how the mind will naturally begin to tell us stories as we slow down and bring our bodies to stillness in each asana (yoga pose). Often these stories can be unnecessary distractions “oh the walls are white here, I should really paint my walls white” or negative conversations with ourselves “oh my hips are a bit stiff today, why are my hips always stiff?” We can counteract this natural (but distracting) habit by gently shifting our attention to our breath again and again- throughout our yoga practice and our day.

The breath is a constant flow of (usually) effortless movement and when we focus on it, it can re-centre us, bring our awareness back into our body and stop the mind’s chatter in its tracks. This mindfulness practice then allows us a bit of space or silence to reconnect with our body, even if it’s only for a few seconds before the mind starts to distract us again.

The next time you have 30 seconds to yourself to relax try this – close your eyes and without changing the breath just notice what its doing. Are you breathing into your chest? Or are you filling your lungs and naturally expanding your abdomen? Just breathe and pay attention.

Notice how you feel after this practice. Was it difficult? Was it relaxing? Practicing yoga regularly can help develop your mindfulness practice and awareness of the breath. Join me in my Relaxing Hatha/Yin Yoga classes on Thursday evenings at 7pm at Hands on Health, when we reopen, to learn some more mindfulness techniques that can keep you centered and relaxed throughout your day.