When we breathe in a rhythmic and audible fashion breathing in and out of the nose with the mouth closed, sounding like the waves of the ocean or Darth Vader, we are actually doing more than just breathing, we are stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. The breath is the steady part that resides within all of us. It is always there and automatically occurs whether we are aware or not.
Whereas most of its actions are involuntary, some, such as breathing, work in tandem with the conscious mind.
When we breathe in a mindful manner, it calms the autonomic nervous system, which consists of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are located in the portion of the brain stem entitled the medulla oblongata.
The sympathetic nervous system is fight or flight. This happens when we get stressed or have to run away from a bear, for example. Our heart rate accelerates, our breath is either rapid or non-existent and we feel tightness in our body. Most of us stay in this state of mind when we get in this state, we need to breathe and that is usually the first thing that. The parasympathetic nervous system is the relaxation response in the body.
Mindful breathing can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and help us come into a relaxed state of mind.
What is your Yoga?
What about bridge pose? To bridge the gap between yourself and your breath.
I love yoga because it helps me restore a sense of balance and self reflection. When I wake up in the morning or after a long day, I need a way to reconnect. I do this through mindfully moving my body. This could be through a series of asanas (poses linked with breath), a long walk with my kids, alone, or just simply quiet time; doing nothing, being nothing, and not being responsible for anything even if just for a few moments. Taking this time, helps me recharge and self nurture, so that I can be of service to others.
Many other people, especially children, have their own yoga. Surfing, shooting baskets, playing with legos, climbing a tree, bird watching, to name a few. These could also be considered forms of yoga. When I instruct children, I encourage them to find an activity that they enjoy which links them to the present moment and where they come out of the activity better than when they came in.
That in my opinion is yoga.