I have started to realize in teaching and in my own practice that the way that we truly feel in our bodies involves breathing. I think a lot of it has to do with the way that the nervous system uses oxygen and energy in general; it is pretty easy to forget that we are walking storms of electric consciousness. Literally, your brain is a massive thunderstorm that walks around. And we are not truly separated from our environment; the integration and sharing occurs with the breath. Lucky we have a bubble (the atmosphere) to share with.
Think about the power of singing; powerful emotions become accessible through simply listening to a voice not to mention using one; or about the power of a forgotten scent, able to instantly transport you somewhere else in time. These things are all inter-related with breathing and I believe that touch is too. I often find that when I practice, my body contracts and extends more easily and efficiently with coordination of my breath. There are even muscles that allow us to breath, like the diaphragm, intercostals, and abdominals that directly contract and expand with the respiratory system. Our nervous system (what allows us to feel) seems to be intricately related to our breathing apparatus.
This brings me to the point, that we use our breath to feel the world around us. In a way, it sets the mood for the rest of the body, like the atmosphere of the situation. If you are freaking out, chances are that your breath is too; if you are calm, your breathing is probably slow and deep; I would bet that each emotion has a range of breathing that can determine what the emotion was. Gasping for surprise, yelping, snorting when you laugh (it has happened to everyone once!), sighing with relief, pouting when you are unhappy are all examples and I’m sure there are a lot more.
Someday, the breath will be far more of an indicator for health than it is today. It is so subtle, think about how much time people spend learning and studying heart rate fluctuations and spikes. Measuring breath will probably be more complicated than that, but think about what it could indicate about the central and peripheral nervous systems. Control of the breath will lead to liberation, which bring me to the next article on Pranayama, the fourth limb of yoga. Stay tuned for more