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Creative Commons License photo credit: tick followed tock

“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” – Oprah Winfrey

One morning I was at yoga class and as I stood after finishing a pose, I began to feel light-headed and dizzy.  I tried to wait the feeling out, but it wouldn’t go away.  Eventually, I had to leave class to go lie down.

I was really perplexed by the bout of dizziness that I experienced because I am an active person and have been since high school.  I had never really experienced something like this before, even when completing challenging physical exercise.

When I went back to class the following week I was nervous that this might happen again.  And as I followed along with the class, I found myself focusing more and more on breathing rhythmically with the physical motions we were doing.  Of course, this is something that is taught in any yoga class, but until them I didn’t quite understand it’s importance.

As I focused on my breath and matched it to my actions, I felt a little stronger than I had before.  As my breath and actions flowed in unison, there was more power behind what I did, and even when I started to get tired my breath connected me to a source of energy that I could draw on to complete the pose.

The way that you breathe affects the way and the speed with which you are living your life.  When you feel stressed, overwhelmed and “busy” your breathing is usually shallow and quick, and only reinforces these feelings.

But when you breathe deliberately, steadily and slowly your actions slowly come into rhythm with your breath, making you feel that you have the power to do what you need to do.

Your Breath Shows You How To…

Come Back To Your Center: Breathing properly reminds you of your Center and how to act from it.  When you connect with your Center you are able to act from yourself to do what you really need to be doing.  “Busyness” goes away.

See the “Cracks”: You need to access silence to see the “cracks” well.  Breathing well slows you down so that you don’t miss seeing them.  It allows you to carry silence with you, even when things are loud on the outside.

Be Present: Your breath is the same in the past, present and the future.  Focusing on your breath now, connects you to this moment that you are in.  When you are breathing there is only Now.  Be there with it.

Connect Your Mind, Body and Soul: When you are present with your breath, you are, all at the same time, with your body (the physical movement of air into and out of your lungs), your mind (the focusing of your attention on your breath) and your soul (the part that you access as you enter your Center).  These things are not separate.

Find Your Breath When You Need It

  1. Stop: If you are running around feeling stressed, for a moment, stop what you are doing.  More activity at a faster pace usually does nothing to help you feel less stressed.  😉
  2. Sit: Sit down comfortably, preferably with your back straight and your shoulders back (so there is lots of room in your chest cavity for air to come in and out).
  3. Breathe: Inhale to a count of 4, and then exhale to a count of 4.  Slowly, steadily.
  4. Start Again: Now you are ready for more activity.  Repeat as necessary throughout your day.

Do you have any breathing exercises you feel are helpful?  How would you describe the way it feels when you are breathing properly?  Please share your ideas in the comments.  🙂

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  1. Breathing is SO important. (I mean, yes, in the obvious sense, of course it is!) Whenever I’m stressed or worried, I find that breathing in deep breaths really does help me to feel better. Great post!
    .-= Positively Present´s last blog ..finding hope on the bright side of the road =-.

  2. Hi Amanda – Breathing consciously grounds me. There’s the obvious physical change, but it also slows down my thoughts, which can go a mile a minute. It gives me an experience too, of being in the now. Thanks for the thoughtful advice first thing on Monday morning!
    .-= Patty – Why Not Start Now?´s last blog ..Seven Ways to Bring On the Epiphanies =-.

  3. Thanks for this Amanda. As far as breathing exercises, The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi, a yoga instructor, has some great techniques for letting go of habits of shallow or rapid breathing that can relieve stress and give us a sense of greater energy.

  4. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Dani – Yeah, breathing is really important isn’t it? 😉 And it certainly does help with stress relief.

    Hi Patty – Yes, being Grounded – that’s a good one. Breathing really does connect us to the physical world around us.

    Hi Chris – Thanks for the recommendation – I’ll have to check that out.

  5. Amanda — I can’t believe yours was the first post I visited on my return from our mini-vacation. I’m already feeling stressed…not in a bad way…but just due to wanting to catch up with things.

    When I read this post, I tuned in to my breathing and realized it WAS shallow and quick. I stopped and took the four breaths you recommended and I immediately realized my shoulders dropped. I wasn’t even aware I had them hunched up. So, thank you for this Monday reminder to BREATH:~)
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..Picture Story: Here’s To Words =-.

  6. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Sara – It’s unfortunate how quickly after a vacation our normal stress levels return! Glad this worked for you 🙂

  7. I caught myself anxious with shallow breathing yesterday for no reason. I instantly began breathing deeper and of course all was A-OK. I jotted down the book Chris talks about…going to the library.
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..There Is Nothing To Fear =-.

  8. Jan Jan

    My first time here. A marvelous post! I am glad you listened to your body and honored its wisdom. I absolutely believe in the power of breath to do all the things you cite above. I attribute my breath to saving my sanity, delivering me from anxiety and despair. I do take my breath practice one step further…

    I imagine the breath to be holy breath, sacred breath, the Divine actually breathing in and through me. Giving me life. Returning me to my sacred center. Framed in this way, breath is grace….I have even done measured breathing saying to myself, “God is breathing me.” It’s quite transformative.

    Believe, breathe, and be well! Blessings on you and your lovely site.


  9. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Tess – I am also interested in the book that Chris recommended. Let me know how you like it. 🙂

    Hi Jan – Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! The way you have described visualizing your breath is a really powerful idea. I will have to keep this in mind. 🙂

    Hi Jonathan – Absolutely!

  10. Today I had one of those dizzy moment in exercise…I stopped and ate an apple as it felt like lack of food – 15 minutes later I was offered a sitting meditation test – straight and centered posture off of hips…no slouch and soft breathing. I made it 12 minutes in balanced focus…it paid off

    I was able to get through the whole day breathing well and not get out of breath

    nice post and writing – thank you

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