Why You Need To Focus On Your Breath During Yoga

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The Spiritual Power Of Chanting Gayatri Mantra (गायत्री मंत्र)

By Rishikul Yogshala

October 3, 2019

When we talk of breathing we usually talk about how it keeps us alive, how it is a mechanical process that our body carries out at every second of our existence. But focused, conscious breathing is something that we need to talk about and give it its due credits. When we go to the etymological roots of the word ‘Yoga’, we see that it denotes a certain kind of ‘union’. A union with some external force, with your environment or simply with your own physical and spiritual self, it could be any and everything. One of the most important things required to attain this state of the union lies in a focused and conscious breathing process. We are aware of how we are always advised to focus on our breaths during any kind of yogic exercise, now it is time to explore why one must do this.

  1. Building focus for the process
    Yoga is a process of self –realization, and it demands your undivided attention for that.  When you’re instructed to “focus” on your breath, it is done in order to bring you to the ‘present’. We are well aware of the fact that our lives have gotten to a stage where our attention and thoughts are all over the place.  Conscious breathing helps us let go of the thoughts of what has happened before, or what might happen in the future. Your focus shifts entirely on the pattern of your breathing, thus slowly directing your entire attention to your mind and body. This, in turn, helps you calm down, relax and actualize the real purpose of practicing yoga and understanding the purpose of your very existence.
  2. Generates energy to carry out yogic exercises
    On a normal day, you subconsciously follow a very light kind of breathing. This is referred to as “Chest Breathing”.  It might be sufficient enough to keep you alive, but not enough to keep you going and to keep your body healthy, fit and energized. During yoga, when we focus on our breathing, we consciously take deep breaths.  This deep breath makes your diaphragm contract and thus the name “Diaphragmatic Breathing”. When this happens, it becomes possible for every part of your lung to be filled with a sufficient amount of oxygen. It results in faster and better blood circulation thus resulting in the energizing of your body. Focused breathing allows an opening of all the channels or nadis and lets the energy flow throughout your body.
  3. Creates Physical ease to carry out Asanas
    The notion of physical ease is very much related to the point discussed previously, which is the generation of energy through breathing. When you indulge in yogic activity, you are required to do various kinds of Asanas. Some of them might be easy to pull off, while some would need muscular strength and ease. If you don’t breath in a focused way, the deep long breathing yoga demands, your body tends to lock up and creates a kind of restriction for the flexible movement of your body muscle.  Focus on breathing, first, allows the proper flow of blood thus creating energy and also loosens up any kind of knots in your body that stop you from attaining a particular yogic posture. Breathing also helps in retaining as well as increasing core strength. It won’t be incorrect to say that your breathing, therefore, determines how easily you get through a yogic exercise.
  4. Keeping positive emotions intact
    In this hectic modern world, we struggle to keep our minds away from the negativity that surrounds us. While yoga helps us generate these positive emotions, we should also enlighten ourselves with understanding how breathing contributes to it. When we breathe consciously and in a focused manner, we are able to gain control over our mind. This control helps us reflect upon all the negative thoughts that dominate our mind and then we allow ourselves to easily and consciously shed them. Once you clear your mind, you’d see yourself focusing on all things positive. Focusing on your breath helps release certain hormones that will ease your mind and help you get over any kind of anxiety or stress.
  5. Strengthening of the Life Force
    From traditional Eastern philosophy to the Western thought, we have seen how a certain degree of importance has been placed on what is called the “life instinct” and “death instinct”. Sigmund Freud in his theory of Psychoanalysis points out how each one of us has both these instincts within us and it depends on us to choose which one we allow to bloom and flourish. Likewise, in Indian philosophy, there is a concept of Prana which is not something alien for the people who are acquainted with yoga. The flow of all kinds of physical feeling, according to the Indian philosophy, is attributed to the presence of Prana at work.  In yoga, there is an exercise that is practiced to extend this life force and is quite literally called Pranayama i.e. “life force extension”. When you carry out these breathing processes it results in the flowing of these vital energy forces that keep your body healed and helps you strengthen your life force. The creative essence of your existence reaches a level of complete actualization.

Now you know what do the next time you find yourself in any kind of mental, physical or emotional hour of trouble.

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