It’s Always About the Breath

In my yoga classes, I often say that the breath is very subtle, but very powerful. By merely taking a few
moments to focus on and change our breathing, we are able to elicit the “relaxation response”
(stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system). The relaxation response includes decreased heart
rate, decreased blood pressure, increased blood flow to the body, improved digestion, improved
immune system response. Breath is often the focus of meditation. It is also a wonderful way to
physically bring you into a calmer state of mind. You can’t always make changes by telling yourself to
settle down, but you can change your breathing.

Breath is a connection between mind, body, and spirit. The words for breath and spirit are the same in
many different languages: prana in Sanskrit, Numa in Greek, Spiritus in Latin, Inspiration in English.
When performing breathwork, you feel immediate changes in your body, mood, and focus. Repetitive
breathwork results in long-term effects. And there are no negative side effects!

Try the two different breath patterns described below, see how they work for you, and notice the changes within!

Diaphragmatic Breathing: (Either sitting or lying comfortably) Place your hands on your abdomen. As
you inhale deeply, feel your abdomen moving out into your hands. As you exhale, feel your abdomen
moving inward. Gently lengthen both the inhale and the exhale. Keep breath relaxed and soft, but
deep. As you continue breathing, gently contract your abdominal muscles to assist the exhale to deepen
the breath further. Release abdominals completely as you inhale. The breath remains as relaxed as
possible, even as you deepen the breath. Repeat several cycles.

Silver Cord Breathing: (sitting) Continue diaphragmatic breathing. Imagine a “silver cord” that extends
from your tailbone to deep within the earth, and up through the center of your spine, out through the
crown of your head to the sky. Inhale up from deep within the earth, all the way through the crown of
your head to the sky. Exhale all the way back down from the sky, through the center of your spine to
deep within the earth. If your mind wanders, gently nudge it back to the breath and the cord. Repeat
several cycles.


Shelley Carpenter, Physical Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher is a practitioner at Ommani who offers group (Tuesday and Wednesdays) and individual therapeutic yoga sessions, physical therapy, and Reiki care. Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment or for group yoga, see her website