Breath is life of course, and yet it sounds almost too good to be true that something so natural, free and right under our noses is one of our biggest wellness boosters. As any breath guru will tell you, when we breathe freely and deeply, we cultivate a balanced nervous system – the overseer of our digestion and sleep wake cycle. When these systems are functioning well, we feel energised, positive and open to life. In our super visualised world, we’re not necessarily aware that breathing is a sensorial process intrinsically linked to our sense of smell. Each time we inhale, air moves up the nostrils; is warmed and filtered by the tiny hairs (cilia) and mucus lining; passes over a stamp sized piece of tissue at the back of the nose (the olfactory epithelium) where odorous molecules are processed and information is sent to the brain for interpretation. All of this physiological process generally goes on in the background. Yet most of us can recall times we’ve experienced the effects of our breath: the ‘out of breath’ high during exercise; the giddy ‘breathlessness’ that comes with excitement. Or, how wonderful it is to fill our lungs with the wet earthy woodsy aroma in the forest or the salty zesty oceanic breeze by the sea. Such moments of pure awareness hold the key to an ever present feeling of deep calm and unbounded joy which we miss when we’re so caught up in the worries and anxieties of the day. For me, simple, daily yogic practices have helped me breathe easier, which in turn has allowed me to slow down and be in my sensory awareness much more. Everything feels more vivid, more lit up – the smoky richness of my morning coffee, or the sweetness of my rose lip balm. Take a moment right now to notice your breath. There is no need to change anything about it – simply become aware of the movement of air in and out as it is happening. If you notice you are breathing through your mouth, try gently closing your lips and directing the flow through your nose. When you do this without forcing, the breath will naturally slow down and lengthen. If you are already naturally breathing through your nose, see if you can observe the inhale moving down and expanding into the whole of your lungs, becoming aware of the movement of your rib cage and torso. As you exhale, feel the natural contraction of the lungs, rib cage and torso as the air moves up and out. Again, we’re allowing the breath to become longer, fuller without the need to push or force. These are just two very simple breath awareness practices you can tune into at any time – even just for a few seconds. Notice how much better you feel afterwards. And, of course, you can bring in healing essential oils for the full sensory experience. It’s worth buying an aromatherapy diffuser to create a subtly supportive atmosphere, or take a few drops of your favourite oil blend, rub into your palms, inhale and enjoy.
- Join me on line here and let’s breathe easily together
- Look out for my next column towards the end of November