Inhale. Exhale. Breathe.
As part of your Fierce Grace practice, your teachers tell you when to breathe, or how to breathe as you move. Part of this is because, let’s face it, it’s easy to forget when you are concentrating. It’s nice to be reminded. But there are some very practical reasons why Pranayama, to give it the yoga name, is as important as the poses themselves.
The O2/CO2 exchange
When you breathe in, you are filling your lungs with O2, aka oxygen. The lungs take it to the chamber of the heart that releases it into the bloodstream, and this act also increases the blood flow, in order to take all the life giving O2 round the body.
On the exhale, your body is getting rid of CO2, carbon dioxide, which is a byproduct created by the mitochondria (energy production cells) as they burn sugars, fats and proteins. CO2 is biochemical waste and it makes the blood more acidic – which can impair the function of the body’s cells. By changing the length of the breath in and the breath out, you can help your body do its job more efficiently.
The nervous system
This is a simple one. Fast breathing dials up the stress hormones, heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and anxiety, while slowing the breath down dials down all of the above AND turns up relaxation, mental clarity and calm. Illustration of the nervous system
Maximising the benefits of your practice
Each pose, or asana, has been carefully chosen for whichever Fierce Grace sequence you are doing, because of its benefits to the body. Using the breath properly not only enhances the physical benefit to the body but helps you get deeper into the pose, and power boosting the benefits.
So don’t just look at what your fellow yogis are doing, listen to your teacher and try and follow their directions on breathing for a healthier, calmer, deeper practice. Breathe.