Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. ― Thich Nhat Hanh
What is conscious breathing?
Why do we need to be conscious of our breath?
Doesn’t the body know how to breathe just fine without having to think about it?
We usually don’t pay attention to our breath until there’s trouble. We get a cold, suffer from allergies or have a deviated septum. Then we beg to breathe better, to feel better, to feel normal again. When we don’t breathe well we don’t live well, and everything becomes more challenging.
When we study the breath, we become aware that breathing is both voluntary and non-voluntary, both a physical process and a circulation of a LIFE FORCE called Prana by the yoga tradition.
Beyond sending oxygen to every one of our cells, breathing circulates Prana throughout our bodies. Becoming conscious of this process allows us to tune into the vibrating force that animates everything in the universe. Why wouldn’t we want to know more about this power?
We are all unconsciously tuned to the power of the breath. For example, we inhale when we need courage, and we sigh the breath out when we feel safe and loved. We turn our breath into sound when we sing, chant, or talk. We can tell when our partner is having a tough day just by the sound of their breath. Some of us hold our breath in or out, and some of us only breathe into our upper chest due to fear or anxiety.
Conscious breathing involves observing and working with the breath in a knowing way to change our lives. We can learn to ride the power of Prana for increased energy or to quiet us when we need to rest and reflect. We can use the breath to change our mood, our frame of mind, our level of energy.
Conscious breathing brings us into the present again and again. Each breath takes place in the NOW. We can’t breathe for the past or store breaths for the future. We can only breathe this breath now, and to do so with awareness allows us to become intensely present.
Conscious breathing also expands the role of choice in our lives. One of the greatest gifts of the breath is the introduction of a pause moment between breaths that offers a moment of reflection and choice.
The pause between breaths can be approached like a fork in the road. In the pause, we can consciously choose to go down a familiar path that no longer serves us or to venture toward something new in our lives. Beyond sustaining our life, the breath offers a path toward fulfillment.
The Goddess whispers a lullaby of love in the form of the mantra SO HUM, which translates as I AM. This mantra rides every inhale and exhale 22,000 a day, serving to remind us of our divine light.
Conscious breathing allows us to cultivate this light within us. Close your eyes, breathe, become present and listen.
Among Miami’s most experienced and sought-after yoga teachers, Anamargret Sanchez is a global citizen of Jamaican, Cuban, and German heritage. She is a dedicated teacher and student of the yoga tradition, and has been blessed to study with many respected teachers, including Rod Stryker, creator of Para Yoga, Manorama, founder of Sanskrit Studies, T.K.V. Desikachar, Leslie Kaminoff, Marlysa Sullivan, and Judith Lasater. She is Cofounder of the Enhanced Healing Yoga Studio, located in Miami’s Upper East Side, and Cohosts YOGAMI, a podcast originating in Miami and focusing on “yoga and stuff.” As part of her commitment to giving and service through yoga, Anamargret also founded the Legion Park Community Yoga class, East Miami’s most successful and long-running yoga outreach effort. Anamargret’s classes are challenging, fun, compassionate, and create space for students to shine in their own light.