Breath. Say it softly to yourself and feel the gentle exhale. Breath. Remember the first time your child whispered a secret into your ear and you could feel their breath on your skin? Breath. Remember a time that you ran so hard or cried so hard, that there was nothing left except to gasp?
Breath is our mostly silent partner throughout our lives. It is how we first let others know that we have arrived into this world with our first cry and it is our companion to the very last as we leave. In an average lifetime we breathe over 600,000,000 times. If we live to 80 its over 750,000,000! In all of this quiet partnership, how often do we acknowledge the power of our lungs to keep us moving throughout the day? How often do we question if/when our next breath will occur?
Physiologically, our lungs are a marvel. We have 3 lobes in our right lung and 2 lobes in our left. Without even thinking we inhale over 2,000,000 liters of air everyday. The surface area of our lungs is approximately the same size as a tennis court. Average lung capacity for a man is about 6 liters, for a woman its 4.5 to 5 liters. During normal respiration we only use about 8-10% of that capacity!
In yoga, breath is known as Prana. But Prana also means the life force or vital energy which permeates the body. It is held to be similar to the Chinese qi, the Japanese ki, and the Greek pneuma. Breath is considered so important in yoga that it gets its very own area of study, also known as one of the eight limbs of yoga, and its called Pranayama. Pranayama is all about breath/prana, and learning to increase and regulate its flow in the body, through various breathing practices.
So, here’s the question…what is breath? Is it just something that gets us through our day that we don’t really need to think about or is it this mystical magical organ that we can use to shape ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually? For me it’s BOTH! Join me in an exploration of this amazing physical gift we call our lungs and go deeper into just what and how we create in our lives with our breath.
End of Part 1….

Namaste, Metta and May the Blessings Be,