The Breath – Our Life Force

How does the Breath Effect our Overall Health?

The breath is an integral part of our overall health and the most vital process of the body. The breath is our life force and influences the activities of each and every cell, and most importantly, is intimately linked with the performance of the brain. Breathing is generally an unconscious action of the body, controlled by the brain stem. Most of us are not aware of our breath, how we breathe and how the breath affects our body, our overall balance, our wellbeing and our mind. However, breathing is one of the few bodily functions which can be controlled consciously. The breath is the link between the conscious and the unconscious mind.

We take a breath approximately 17,000-30,000 times per day. Most people breathe incorrectly, using only a small part of their lung capacity. Their breathing is then generally shallow, depriving the body of oxygen and life force (prana) essential to good health. Abdominal breathing is the most natural and efficient way to breathe. Once this technique becomes part of daily life, you will notice a great improvement in the state of physical and mental wellbeing.

Pranayama is the conscious awareness of breath: the life force that both energises, balances and relaxes the body. The term is derived from the Sanskrit word, prana, meaning “life force,” and ayama, meaning “extension or control.” Pranayama is an integral part of yoga. The controlled breathing enables both the rhythm of performing yoga poses and relaxing the mind for meditation.

Firstly, it is important is to learn how to breathe correctly. I had a friend who used to stick post-it notes all around her apartment with the word, “Breathe” as a reminder to breathe correctly. Abdominal breathing is the most natural and efficient way to breathe. Once abdominal breathing becomes part of daily life, there is a great improvement in the state of physical and mental wellbeing.

Abdominal Breathing – Pranayama…is natural and easy to learn.

Lie on the floor or sit in a chair and relax completely. Feel the breath flow naturally in and out through the nostrils. Allow the breath to flow in through the nostrils and down to the abdomen. Notice the abdomen move upward on inhalation and downward on exhalation. You can place a hand on the abdomen to feel the correct movement.

As a yoga teacher, one Pranayama practice I include at the end of every class is Nadi Shodhana Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing. The practice of Nadi Shodhana (purification of the nadis or energy channels) clears pranic blockages and balances all of our 72,000 nadis or energy channels in our body. Nadi Shodhana balances the whole body, induces tranquillity, clarity of thought and concentration.  It increases vitality and lowers levels of stress and anxiety.  It is a simple practice and takes only a few minutes and can be done daily.

It is best to seek out a good yoga class that includes Pranayama and Nadi Shodhana to learn how to do the practice correctly. It involves a hand mudra…the placement of the hand in a specific position and using a controlled breath through the nostrils.

Below are instructions on how to perform basic Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing).

Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) Practice

Sit in a comfortable position…spine upright, straight and relaxed. Bring the tip of the index finger and the tip of the thumb on the left hand together and place the left hand on the thigh either palm up (Chin Mudra) or down (Jnana Mudra). Concentrate on the normal abdominal breathing for a few minutes…slowly breathing down to the navel and back up.

  • Lift the right hand, place the index finger and middle finger at the eyebrow centre (Pranayama Mudra).
  • Close the right nostril gently with the thumb.
  • Breathe in slowly, gently but deeply through the left nostril visualising the breath flowing through the eyebrow centre. Do not force the breath.
  • Gently close the left nostril… open the right nostril and breathe out through the right.
  • Keeping the left nostril gently closed breathe back in through the right nostril…closing the right nostril…opening the left.
  • Bring the breath through the eyebrow centre and back out through the left. This is one round.

Repeat the round 5 – 7 times.

Hand Mudras

The Sanskrit word mudra is translated as ‘gesture’. Mudras are a combination of subtle physical movements which alter mood, attitude, and perception and deepen awareness and concentration.

 

URL link for a video and short instruction on Nadi Shodhana.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apLOi3y0iyA

URL link to an informative article on the breath and the link between the conscious and unconscious mind. http://www.thehealersjournal.com/2012/10/03/breath-is-the-link-between-the-conscious-and-unconscious-mind/

www.naturescreation.biz


THIS EARTH IS PRECIOUS – Thought to be part of a speech by “Chief Seattle” 1854

Whether these words are actually from a speech by Chief Seattle or not is of no consequence. The meaning behind the words is as powerful and valid today as it was in 1854. I wonder if humanity will ever listen to the call for help from Mother Nature and the Earth …or will we wait until it’s too late to make sustainable changes.

Every part of the earth is sacred to my people.

Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man. The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children.

The white man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man.

We are part of the earth, and it is part of us.

The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers.

The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man…all belong to the same family.

We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs.

Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. This we know. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. All things are connected.

Nature’s Creation – Knowledge & Guidance through Healing


Classified as a bitter herb with cool energy, Dandelion is one of the most nutrient-rich plants in nature.  All parts of the plant are edible.  The young leaves can be steamed or eaten raw in salads, the flowers made into tasty wine and the roots can be eaten as a vegetable or made into a nutritious coffee substitute.

The root of the Dandelion contains beneficial sources of vitamins A, C, and D as well as B-complex.  It also contains the minerals zinc, iron, and potassium.  Dandelion root provides a high antioxidant value to the diet.  Traditionally Herbalists have used Dandelion to enhance the body’s eliminative and detoxifying functions.  It is a powerful tonic for liver dysfunction, purifying the blood, treatment of anemia, constipation, rheumatism, gallbladder problems, inflammatory skin conditions, gout and a successful treatment for high blood pressure by eliminating excess fluids from the system.  All parts of Dandelion contain strong, natural, diuretic properties.

Chicory has been cultivated for thousands of years. It resembles Dandelion in its deep taproot and both Dandelion and Chicory have many of the same medicinal properties. Together, the dried root of both plants can be chopped and roasted to make a herbal coffee substitute.

Lately, I’ve been drawn to Dandelion/Chicory coffee…whether my body is telling me I need it medicinally or because I’m just loving the taste of the drink…or maybe both reasons. I’m not sure. I’ve been drinking it as a hot coffee substitute drink and an iced drink in the summer. It’s my new favourite drink.

 

 

 

 

Here’s my recipe: For a hot drink

  1. One heaping teaspoon roasted Dandelion & Chicory root in a mug
  2. Add boiling water to fill the mug about 1/3 full
  3. Stir and steep for 5-10 minutes
  4. Add honey to taste
  5. Add some almond or soymilk to fill the mug

Then: Pour through a fine strainer into a small pot and reheat.

For an iced drink:

  1. Follow steps 1 through 5
  2. Then: Pour into a large, tall glass and add almond or soymilk to fill the glass ¾ full.
  3. Add 2-3 tablespoons of vanilla coconut ice cream or any preferred vanilla ice cream.

As the ice cream melts, the drink becomes smooth and creamy. Stir and enjoy.

Note: You can find Roasted Dandelion or Roasted Dandelion/Chicory root in most Health Food Stores sold as a coffee substitute.