The greatest gift yoga has given me, is connecting me to the power of breath. You take your first breath the moment you are born and your last breath before you die. The breaths in between are often taken for granted. You don’t have to think about breathing; your breath simply responds to the changes in your body. A powerful thing happens when you consciously change your breath; your body and entire Being responds accordingly, if you calm your breath you calm your body. Pranayama is breath control. Breath is a part of your Prana, which is your Life Force. By bringing awareness into your Life Force you can realize the power of your Being and recognize the light and love that shines through all.
I was born with different health challenges, asthma being one of them. From the time I was born and sometimes still today, asthma and lack of breath has been a part of my life. Not until I became aware of the healing benefits of conscious breathing did I realize the many negative effects asthma has had on my overall wellbeing. I used to always and now less often have anxiety and chronic pain. Last spring I was a guest yoga teacher at Jane Midleton-Moz’s Trauma Informed Training. She explained how my practice of conscious breathing was changing my response to growing up with asthma. My understanding of what she explained is; early childhood trauma causes one to go into survival mode, from that a habit pattern is formed to survive. When one is triggered they react by going into survival mode and respond with that formed habit pattern. For me in young childhood having asthma was traumatic. Not being able to comfortably breathe caused me to feel out of control and I went into survival mode. The habit pattern I formed was taking short, choppy breaths and feeling panicked. Unknown to me, different experiences in life would trigger me and again I would go into survival mode. I would respond with short, choppy breaths and feelings of not being able to breathe, leading to a panic attack or anxiety. Mindfulness and being aware of the present is used to create new habit patterns, so eventually the triggers no longer cause the need to go into survival mode. How ironic it is, that mindful breathing is the answer to me being able to comfortably breathe and reduce my anxiety. That same mindful breath allows me to calm my overactive nervous system and lower my pain levels. I start my day by exploring each body part with breath. Breathing into painful tense areas creates space so the tension can dissipate.
My favourite definition of yoga is ‘to bring awareness to what is already there’. Your breath is always present but by honouring its presence you can explore and create balance within your body, mind and spirit. Your breath connects you to your Prana, your Life Force, the same light and love that flows through all. By being aware of this you can recognize that you have everything you need flowing through you. From my own Indigenous cultural teachings I was taught that our Ancestors walk beside us. There are also Ancestors of the Land, that care for and support us as well as Mother Earth. They are part of the Universal Life Force that supports our own Life Force. We are connected to their wisdom, love and light. By focusing on our breath we can align to the greatness of the Universe that flows through us all.
I practice and teach a variety of yoga styles. They have provided me with an amazing quality of life. Conscious breath is the underlying power in all of them. The beautiful thing about making breath awareness the first step in your yoga practice is, it’s always available to you, whether you are in a complex yoga pose or walking down the road. It’s funny one can spend a lifetime searching for answers that have been right under their nose. Happy breathing!!
For me finding Yoga was discovering one of the secrets to life. Practicing Yoga allows me to feel more comfortable within my skin. It helps me align not only in my mind, body & spirit but to feel the connection in all. I love that the wisdom taught in Yoga parallels teaching found throughout the world, including my own Indigenous Cultural.
Read more about Jaime here.