Just breathe. Hopefully most will agree that breathing is a vital component of the life force in all of us. Without breathe, life ceases to exist. While it has undoubtedly been the subject of many articles on health, it has also been referenced in poems, quotations, and rhetoric phrases throughout the ages of time. We have all gave credence to that awe-inspiring "First Breathe of Life" just as we have mourned the fatal "Last Breathe of Life". However, breathing is an autonomic bodily function that while depended on, is often taken for granted. Most are simply aware that breathing is normal, required, may be altered through illness, and will halt upon death. However, there is so much more to understand the true propensity of breathing and its primal power to improve the quality of lives.
In this age of mindful practices to improve our physical well being and individual journeys in the search for longevity, there is still an overall lack of focus on breathing. With the exception of those in intense physical training or specific exercise programs, most are simply aware of the need to breathe while inhaling and exhaling in the specific manner that offers the greatest benefit to their specific training or sport. For example, weight lifting dictates a routine breathing in and out with the sequential lifting and releasing of weights. While I cannot offer any expertise in this area, I recognize the art and science that breathing offers. The essence of breathing holds the power of transformation while improving wellness and relieving stress in all areas of our daily lives.
Those who have had surgery and those who have experienced certain respiratory illnesses may remember being offered something called an "Incentive Spirometer" while in the hospital recuperating. This would come with the advise to practice with the instrument several times during the day in order to help increase lung volume. This is especially helpful to those who have experienced surgery, anesthesia, pneumonia, and other illnesses since many scenarios can lead to inadequate or shallow breathing which could facilitate the development of further complications. Some may be aware of pulmonary testing which is a measurement of lung function or the ventilation of the lungs including the efforts of inspiration and expiration. These measurements are ultra important in the diagnosis of certain respiratory illnesses. So if an "Incentive Spirometer" is utilized to increase lung capacity, there must be some natural alternatives to stimulate and improve our breathe of life.
Exploring the power of breathing practices as offered in the ancient practice of Yoga is a noteworthy topic of discussion. Yoga offers so many benefits in today's super fast and super stressful world. Many unknowing souls feel Yoga is a "hippie", "way out there", or "earth-child" exercise program based on a vastly unknown philosophy which is totally impossible for "normal" people or those who are less than contortionists. I am here to expel this context of thought. Enter me, new Yogi at age 60 with no prior experience and with no steadfast and dutifully performed method of exercise for the past 10 years. I have never performed gymnastics and was the first at age 10 to show off my forward roll so that I could excuse myself quickly before my friends realized my inability to perform those crazy hand or head stands, which quite frankly, scared me to death. And extending my leg behind my head was not something I could do even at the young age of 10 so I fully accept the unlikelihood at age 60. However, I am drawn to Yoga and its healing capabilities. It holds tremendous benefits including increasing flexibility, improving balance, strengthening the core, meditation & mindful consciousness, reducing stress and control and cultivation of breathing capacity.
Yoga, an ancient practice, is gaining in popularity in our Western culture as people realize the value it offers in improving lives and reducing stress. Beginning in ancient India, it allows us all to find an inner peace that remains strong through the stress of everyday life. All of humanity face struggles including much stress, anxiety, pain, and suffering. While there will always be hardships and challenges to overcome, Yoga allows us to find an inner peace and an inner freedom that stands tall and unyielding. It is not meant to be associated with any specific religion or culture; rather, it is for anyone that dare's to accept nature's trials and move forward on their exciting journey with fierce determination along with the peace and wisdom of inner healing. Yoga is union and creates union between mind, body, and spirit. There are multiple pathways in Yoga and many different styles in existence today. Many will relate to the fact that Yoga revolves around body poses (Asanas) and breathing practices (Pranayama). As your body and breath open, your mind will quiet and expand, and inner peace will follow.
So, just what is involved in Yogic Breathing and how can this assist in our lives. Pranayama is the practice of controlling our breath and is related to the life-force within each of us. Adults often lose the capacity to breathe deeply as they age. When you watch a baby, you will notice that their belly will rise and fall with each breathe. However, most adults take shorter, shallower breaths, never truly expanding the lungs completely. When we fail to inhale deeply and fully, our bodies are supplied with a reduced supply of life-giving oxygen This can lead to less energy, less ability to concentrate, increased stress, and premature aging.
Ujjayi Pranayama or Ocean Sounding Breathe as taught in Foundations of Svaroopa® Yoga offers a wonderful and profound healing form of breathing which provides all the benefits of aerobic exercise with only 20 minutes of daily practice. For those who need physical, emotional, or mental healing, the practice of Ujjayi Pranayama can be implemented twice daily. This is said to provide multiple benefits including improving sleep, asthma, allergies, hypertension, and cardiovascular ailments. This healing breathing technique involves 3 elements: 1) The Sound of your breath as it calms, refreshes, and rejuvenates., 2) The slow pace of your breath as it eliminates tension and quiets the mind., and 3) The elongation of your breath as it opens up additional breathing areas thereby increasing capacity and stimulating the immune system. This valuable breathing technique is taught at the beginning of Svaroopa® Yoga classes often while resting in the Shavasana pose. Contact a Certified Svaroopa® Yoga teacher to learn this valuable breathing philosophy. Svaroopa® is a registered service mark of STC, Inc., used under license.
YogaNursing teaches the Sacred Breath, as the first component of their Sacred Remedy. YogaNursing which unites the ancient wisdom of Yoga with the science of modern Nursing, is the holistic, healing practice of caring and compassion provided by licensed nursing professionals who are also certified Yoga teachers. The mission of YogaNursing is to create a global army of modern Nightingales-YogaNurses®, to uplift and expand consciousness in healthcare as they relieve stress, anxiety, pain, and suffering and create health, peace and wisdom. Different from other styles of Yoga, YogaNursing is a medical yoga model developed by Annette Tersigni, a yoga instructor and RN. Where getting on the floor is not practical or comfortable due to injury, surgery, inflexibility, excessive weight, or other challenges, the practice is done seated or standing. It is a simple proven program that anyone can do and no yoga experience is necessary. They utilize the Sacred Remedy which is a process of healing using Sacred Breath, Sacred Movement, and Sacred Rest. The YogaNursing model identifies the ABC's of awareness, breathing, and circulation which includes overall awareness, the practice of Sacred Breath, and the 7 essential postures in Sacred Movement. Sacred Breath includes pranayama or life force and includes the practice of full diaphragmatic breathing which supports breathing deeply allowing the breath to fully expand all areas thereby allowing the ultimate in oxygenation and supporting the body's ability to heal. Contact a Certified YogaNurse® to for learn about this new and revolutionary trend in nursing that saves and transforms lives which is also a calm experiential way of self care and inner healing.
Yoga is gaining much attention and the number of those who regularly practice Yoga is on the rise. This ancient practice, which is now a topic of much modern research, is gaining ground as being a viable wellness modality. Yoga reportedly can increase lung capacity, improve respiratory function, improve heart health, and prevent heart disease. Cardiovascular benefits including a reduced heart rate and blood pressure are supported by the combination of physical movement, deep breathing, concentration and relaxation that is offered with Yoga. Yoga Pranayama which has also been referred to as the science of breath has been shown to offer multiple benefits to people with cancer including a reduction in stress associated with the disease process and ongoing treatment. It should be noted that yogic breathing aids in detoxifying the body as the process of oxygenation is exemplified through the process of diaphragmatic breathing. Since stress is one of the precursors to heart disease and at the root of many disease processes, could Yoga's ability to center and ground while promoting a deep state of relaxation through specific postures and healing breathing techniques be an answer for so many battling the effects of high-stress lifestyles. Say yes to Yoga. Just breathe.
1. Huvane, Sarahann R. (2016). Yoga for Cardiac Rehab Patients, What can help mend a broken heart. advance healthcare Network for Nurses. Retrieved from nursing.advanceweb.com.
2. Sisk, Angela and Fonteyn, Marsha. (2015). Evidence-Based Yoga Interventions for Patients with Cancer. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. Vol 20, No. 2.
3. Svaroopa® is a registered service mark of STC, Inc., used under license.
4. Certified YogaNurse®is a registered Trademark used under license.
Shirley A. Class, MSN RN CNS-BC, Certified Health Coach, Svaroopa®Embodyment® Therapist, Certified YogaNurse® is the Founder & Wellness Director at Barefoot on the Beach,