The Power of the Breath

In the last year I have just started to try yoga, and I have to say that I am hooked. It’s incredible what a difference even just one hour a week can make.

For me, and many others that I’ve spoken to, it’s the dedication to taking time for one’s self that’s so important. By committing to that class you are saying that you’re important too, and you need to take the time to rejuvenate your body and de-clutter your mind.

Part of yoga that I’ve found especially powerful was the prominence of the breath. Linking your breathing to movement and meditation really helps to clear out all of that garbage that everyone has in their lives. For me it’s been very cleansing, so I decided it was time to turn to the experts to find out why the breath is so important for over all well-being.

Owner and Director of Edmonton Power Yoga, Jennifer Benson, says she has seen first hand the impact breathing exercises can have.

“I just think we need to get present and the breath is a great vehicle and a great tool for us to do that to lead powerful lives” says Jennifer “It brings your heart rate down, it brings your stress level down and it just basically puts pause on everything else and it checks you back in to right now.”

Medically, breath exercises have been proven to reduce stress, ease anxiety and promote an overall sense of wellness and good health. Registered Psychologist Christina Bell is a strong believer in the power that can come from focusing on the breath and often uses these techniques with her clients.

“If we are breathing in a slow and consistent manner we activate our relaxation response which is also called your parasympathetic nervous system,” says Christina “That’s really the place where we want to spend most of our time because that’s a place where we are open, creative, reflective and we can access compassion really easily.”

Experts agree it’s not necessarily the depth of the breath that is important, but just the act of controlling your breath into a consistent rhythm that makes the big difference.

“Spiritual leaders and healers in all parts of the world have breathing practices,” says Christina Bell “What’s interesting is those breathing rhythms are all quite different, there wasn’t a certain length but it was a consistency.”

Bell recommends finding a breathing pattern that is gentle and consistent, without forcing yourself to take in large amounts of air at a time.

For those who haven’t tried any type of breathing exercise before both Jennifer Benson and Christina Bell agree it’s important to leave reservations behind and just give it a try. They say often people can be hard on themselves when they don’t feel they’ve done the exercise correctly, but as with anything else it takes time and the benefits can be truly rewarding.

“I think a lot of times people don’t want to try things because they think that they won’t get it right or they won’t be good at it,” says Jennifer “ Yoga in general is intimidating for people because they have this perception that they need to be a yogi, they need to be flexible, they need to look like the person on the yoga magazine and I think if you get rid of all of that, you can make it really accessible”

To find out more about Edmonton Power yoga go to http://edmontonpoweryoga.com/

If you’d like to connect with Psychologist Christina Bell go to http://www.christinabell.net/