The Art of Breathing

Spirit comes from the Latin word ‘to breathe’. What we breathe is air, which is certainly matter, however thin. Despite usage to the contrary there is no necessary implication in the word spiritual that we are talking of anything other than matter. Science is not only compatible with spirituality, it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or of acts of exemplary selfless courage.
— Carl Sagan

Breathing certainly keeps us alive. But that's not it's only function. Used correctly it can bring us back into the present moment and ground us physically, emotionally and spiritually. It keeps your organs working efficiently and plays a vital role in reducing stress and managing nerves. 

Your breath has allowed you to do everything you have in your life until this moment - to sing, to dance, to act, to run, the play, to exercise, to laugh, to cry, to argue, to make up... EVERYTHING. It makes sense to me to pay a little respect to the sacred art of breathing everyday. 

As we run about our daily lives we breath high into the chest. We have stopped breathing in the natural way we did as new born babies and children. Dancers especially must spend a fair amount of time connecting back with abdominal breathing. As a result of keeping your core engaged when you dance, the belly will find find it harder to release, and it is common to breath into the upper back. This can add to digestive and respiratory problems. Spending some time every day working on low abdominal breathing will help greatly. 

Qigong breathing is based on Taoist breathing methods that focus on returning the way we breathe to what is in harmony with nature. These methods focus on creating a circular breath that starts from the belly and is relaxed.

Belly breathing helps centre the awareness in your body, rather than in your head, so that you feel more physically and energetically grounded. It helps you to relax your neck, shoulders and arms. It improves the circulation of blood and the flow of Chi through your internal organs. Belly breathing provides a wonderful massage for your internal organs. Just as massaging your muscles adds to their tone and overall functioning, so will belly breathing benefit your internal organs. In terms of your health, massaging your internal organs is more important than toning your visible muscles. Belly breathing improves circulation in the blood vessels that nourish your internal organs.

I always think the simpler the better. So here is a short, simple exercise to get you going. I prefer to do this lying down with my knees up, feet flat and hands on my belly. A great way to start and end the day. Enjoy and leave your comments, ideas and thoughts below.