When preparing for my lecture on breath and bandhas on the Spain yoga teacher training, I wanted to illustrate “alive” versus “lifeless.”
Picture a dancer raising her arm and lowering it down, or standing then spiraling down to the ground – while holding her breath.
Then picture the same dancer, taking a deep inhale that initiates the graceful lifting of an arm, and exhaling to spiral down all the way to the floor.
Which image reflects more aliveness, more life energy for you?
Breath is life. While we can live without water or food for a couple of days, we cannot go without breathing for more than a few seconds. Okay, you may be able to hold your breath for up to 10 minutes if you are a pro free diver.
Yet, most of us fail to breathe properly. We tend to use only our chest space, resulting in shallow breathing; and most of us unconsciously hold our breath when stressed. This may result in more physical and emotional tension, which tends to add up.
Once we learn to use a fuller capacity of our body space and expand the breath, we not only create space for physical release to happen, but we also open up the mind.
Ultimately, creating space in the mind is one of the purposes of yoga practice.