What is conscious breathing?

Health & Wellness
Last Updated Jul 28, 2020
Health & Wellness

Are you aware of your breath? Sounds like a silly question, but the truth is that while we inhale and exhale without much thought throughout our lives, few of us master proper breathing.
Some say that for the tens of thousands of breaths we take each day, consciously breathing for just a portion of those breaths can greatly enhance our health, wellness and self-awareness.

Why practice conscious breathing?

Conscious breathing is central to Kriya Yoga practice, some 4000 years old. But it’s just as relevant for modern living as it was for ancient yogic practice.
Take a few moments now to observe your breath. Is it short and shallow, or long and deep? While as infants, we learn to breathe deeply and fully, adult anxiety and pressures can prompt a shallower, shorter breath – and sometimes we even hold our breath in moments of crisis or stress.
Obviously, this isn’t healthy.
Conscious breathing allows us to tap into our selves and gain greater self-awareness. In this way, it works a little like meditation. We focus on our breath, letting other thoughts fade out, and practice a long, deep, diaphragmatic breath. In and out, in and out.
If you have anxiety or are dealing with a stressful situation, add conscious breathing to your toolkit. When panic strikes, or you’re feeling flustered, you can practice conscious breathing and find stillness. Even just for a moment. For sometimes a moment of just ‘being’ is all we need to re-focus re-balance and re-evaluate a situation or emotion.
And if you’re a spiritual person, you may find that conscious breathing allows you to connect with a higher power.

How to practice conscious breathing

There are several conscious breathing techniques to try. Most include closing your eyes, inhaling through your nose, and taking a deep, slow and deliberate breath. Ensure you’re breathing from your diaphragm, which will push your stomach out. If your shoulders are coming up with each inhale, you are breathing through your chest – so try to focus on breathing lower down.
You can play music, focus on a mantra or word or thought, or you can simply sit in stillness and breathe until you feel back in balance.
Just be in the moment. Forget everything else. In this moment, nothing else matters but your breath. Any time you feel stressed, overwhelmed, anxious or upset, come back to your breath. Let it be the rock that secures you during times of insecurity.
And just breathe.

Originally published on Apr 24, 2015

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills… There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind… So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself. — MARCUS AURELIUS
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