The Power of Breath

I wrote this article one year ago, just before my grandmother passed. Being that it's the one year anniversary, I find myself coming back to the reminder of how powerful our breath is and how we tend to take it for granted. So, here is the article again. I know that I needed a little reminder, maybe you do too.

Before you read this article, stop and take a moment to think about your breath… pretty powerful, isn’t it?

This past week has been emotionally challenging for my family. My sweet grandmother has been in the ICU, hooked up to multiple tubes and relying on a machine to breathe. While sitting next to her, holding her soft hand and looking over her frail, little body, I took a moment to give thanks for the simplest reminder that we are alive… our breath.

This powerful, life-giving thing that accompanies us from the moment we arrive in the world until the moment we depart from our journey and yet, we hardly give it a moments thought day in and day out. It is the greatest reminder that we are alive, we are present and we are amazing human beings.

Over the last few years, I’ve come to rely on my breath to get me through moments of anxiety, sadness, excitement, fear and overwhelm. It was after I had really started to take yoga more seriously, that I found becoming more aware of my breath was one of the most important things I could do.

I was driving through a mountainous pass in Montana between Bozeman and Missoula when I realized that I was death gripping the steering wheel, holding my breath and feeling an unwelcomed amount of anxiety. In that moment, I decided to focus on my breath -- deep in breath met with a nice, long out breath. It was almost instantaneously that I felt ease and calmness wash over me. From that moment forward, I began to understand how I can use my breath to more easily, calmly and joyfully move through life.

In this fast paced life that we’ve created, it’s easy to get caught up in worry, doubts, struggles and moments -- taking for granted some of the most amazing things, such as our breath. Our ability to control our inhale and exhale and in turn, our ability to control our feelings, emotions and how we experience and approach a situation.

My challenge for you is to bring more attention to your breath throughout the day. Starting right after you finish this article, quietly spend 2 to 5 minutes taking nice, long inhales and taking even longer exhales. Imagine your breath like a wave, the waves consistently and calmly come into shore and gently going out from shore, back into the big, beautiful sea. See what it does for your mind, body and spirit.