It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Just Breathe. We do it automatically, don’t we?

But in our busy, sometimes stressful lives, we really forget to breathe.  

Life begins with the first breath. Life ends with the last breath. But even more important than the beginning and the end is the stuff in between — our lives. On average, we take about half a billion breaths during our lives. Sadly, especially in our western culture, our breath has followed the pace of our busy lives – short and fast.

What we may not realize is that the mind, body, and breath are intimately connected and can influence each other. Our breathing is influenced by our thoughts, and our thoughts and physical body can be influenced by our breath.  Scientific research, however, has shown that the slow, long breath has amazing healing power. Learning to breathe consciously and with awareness can be a valuable tool in helping to restore balance in the mind and body.

Yoga is all about the breath! 

Pranayama is yogic breathing techniques to bring our awareness to our breath. Pranayama is a Sanskrit word derived from Prana, meaning “life force” and ayama, meaning ‘extending out”.The control and extension of breath awaken Prana, the Life Force Energy. Scientific research shows that mindful, deep breathing has many health benefits. It is one of the most effective ways to lower everyday stress levels. Deep breathing lowers the respiratory rate and can lower/stabilize blood pressure levels. It can be beneficial in the treatment of depression, insomnia and diabetes. 

There are about 50 different Pranayamas described in the ancient texts, including Ocean’s Breath (Ujjayi), Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana), and Energizing Breath (Bhastrika). Learning these Pranayama techniques should always be done with an experienced yoga teacher. Not all pranayamas should be practiced by all people, especially if there are any medical conditions that need to be considered.

Complete Belly Breath (or three part breath) is easy to do and can be safely done by anyone.

With one hand on your belly, relax your abdominal muscles, and slowly inhale through the nose, bringing air into the bottom of your lungs. You should feel your abdomen rise (part 1). This expands the lower parts of the lungs. Continue to inhale as your rib cage expands outward (part 2), and finally, the collar bones rise at the low throat (part 3). At the peak of the inhalation, pause for a moment, then exhale gently from the top of your lungs to the bottom. At the end of exhalation, contract your abdominal muscles slightly to push residual air out of the bottom of your lungs. Start by doing this for a minute.


Smile, breathe and go slowly. ~Thích Nhất Hạnh