It’s not surprising that the 1984 Grammy award winning song by the Police Every Breath You Take struck a chord with many people -  aside from its pop credentials, I wonder if its lyrics  strike a particular note, too.

It is unusual in being a song that talks about the breath. Pranayama, or breathing practice, is one of the seven limbs of yoga, laid down in ancient India philosophy. Others include asana and meditation.

Good health depends on good breathing, and as our lives become more sedentary we find ourselves utilising the power of the breath less and less.  We no longer draw on the muscles involved in deep and rapid inhalation and exhalation. While it’s generally recommended that walking at least three miles a day (or its equivalent in steps) is beneficial to keeping well, what is the equivalent for the breath?

If jogging, or vigorous activity is not for you, then at least you can work those breathing muscles as part of your yoga practice. Focussing on the breath also has a range of other benefits too, including a reduction in stress and help with relaxation.

Here’s a link to Kapalabhati breath which we practised this week  https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/skull-shining-breath

Try this simple 3 MINUTE BREATHING SPACE  (Not necessarily limited to 3 minutes!) Creating a Breathing Space provides an opportunity to step out of automatic pilot mode and to reconnect with the present moment. Basic instructions:

1. AWARENESS Bring yourself into the present moment by deliberately adopting an erect and dignified posture. If possible, close your eyes. Then ask: “What is my experience right now … in bodily sensations… …in feelings ….. and in thoughts?”Acknowledge and register your experience, even if it is unwanted.

2. GATHERING  Then gently redirect full attention to breathing, to each in and each out breath as they follow, one after the other.

3. EXPANDING  Expand the field of your awareness around your breathing, so that it includes a sense of the body as a whole, inviting the breath all the way in and letting it find its way all the way out.