By Paul von Bergen

Breathing is such an under-rated skill in the West.

Our obsession is all about the heart, and exercising to get it to beat fast in the bizarre hope that is all we will need to do to stay healthy. We are so dumb sometimes.

Breathing is what gives us life. It has a profound effect on your physical and mental wellbeing. Breathing is literally inhaling life or prana. Breathing pulls the oxygen in which is then pumped around your body by your heart. The less oxygen you breath in each breath, the harder and faster your heart has to work to distribute it around the body. Your breathing leads your heart.

Most of us have never once been taught how to breathe even though it should be the first thing that we learn at school or at home.  Most of us use a very limited lung capacity and this can be increased by up to 30% through proper techniques. That’s 30% more life coming in every breath. That’s 30% less hard the heart has to work. That’s incredibly significant.

When you breath in you should feel your ribs and your belly expand. When you breath out your belly should move towards your spine – not the other way around. It often helps to hear the sound of the breath on the back of your throat.

When you do Vipassana meditation you spend three days just thinking about the breath coming out of your nose. For thousands of years humans have understood the power of the breath to create health. It’s only in the just few hundred years where us arrogant Westerners think we know best.

It stuns me that people with heart conditions are not taught about the power of the breath. The scientific knowledge backs this up – check out the article from Time magazine last month – it is just ignorance that stops people listening.

The breath is a key link between the mind and the physical body. The quality of our breath has a huge impact on the nervous and metabolic systems. Slow deep mindful breathing creates a body state of calmness and relaxation. It removes tension. Breathing is the simplest and most effective form of relaxation. It’s nature’s way to health.

The breath is an incredibly powerful link between the conscious and unconscious mind. The breath can happen ’ automatically  without you controlling it, or it can happen with you regulating it, consciously thinking about breathing in and out.

There’s also an amazing and advanced middle state which I personally find extremely hard to to achieve. This is where you are conscious of your unconsciously controlled breath. That is, you tune in to the real subtleties of your breath and your mind, but you in no way control it. Its really hard because as soon as you tune it, your conscious mind automatically wants to control. It’s a great life tool in learning to become an observer of your mental and physical processes.

Observing the breath is one of the best examples of how through mindfulness and meditation techniques, you can learn to observe the subtle systems going on in your body. Your can delve into areas of your mind and body that you previously thought you couldn’t access – all simply through the breath. Once you start delving into these new areas your lifelong journey of personal discovery has begun.

Yoga is breathing. Yoga is so much more about breathing than it is about bendy postures. It’s impossible to do yoga without breathing leading the way.

We are gonna talk alot lot more about breathing. I suggest that people should spend the very minimum of 60 seconds a day doing mindful and slow breathing.