Breath, Finding Stability

by Mary Coleman, Yogini


Our breath. For most of us, we don’t think about our breath until we are laboring to get it. It just is there. Our breath is our life force. Our breath animates us. Our breath refreshes and cleanses us. Our breath means life. We can go without food or water but we cannot go without air.

Our breath can tell us a lot about our emotional state. The practice of mindful breathing helps you learn your pattern and rhythm. When we are stressed just taking three slow, mindful breaths will shift us back into stability.

Recently, I was spending time with a friend who was going through a really stressful experience at work. As she retold the story, her shoulders hiked up towards her ears, she talked very fast and she was angry. Even just retelling the story triggered her body into the stress response. I reminded her to just take a moment to breathe. She smiled and laughed. Then she began slow, mindful and deep breathing. Her shoulders softened, her jaw softened. “Why can’t I remember to do this when I am in the situation?” she asked. This is a great question. Mindful breathing takes practice. We have to turn our awareness to our breath and then acknowledge our emotional state.

What is mindful breathing? Place your hands on your belly, close your eyes. Inhale through your nose – slow and steady within your capacity. When you reach the top of your inhale, exhale just as slowly and steadily as you did with your inhale. You should feel your hands gently rise with your inhale and then feel the belly soften away from the hands with the exhale. Your shoulders should not move. The breath should be supported by your diaphragm (a big muscle below your lungs) which is why you should feel movement in your belly.

Practice this several times a day (as many as you can). This simple act will help you get more stable and grounded. Then, the next time you’re feeling stressed, start to mindfully breathe. You need to practice this every day for it to become a natural reaction for you.

Good breathing and many blessings,

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