When I took yoga classes a while ago, the teacher kept reminding her students to breathe. I thought that was strange because breathing is as natural as, well…. breathing. But, Emma Sepala, PhD at Stanford University and co-author of a book on post-traumatic stress affirms that, “the psychological effects of mindful breathing are profound.” (“The Breathing Cure,” by Jennifer Matlack, More, April 2014 pg. 108)
I don’t have a PhD but I agree. Stop breathing and watch yourself turn blue.
Of course yoga teachers are prone to claim their discipline is meant to improve our lives but I know that’s a lie. I offer the picture below in evidence.
(courtesy of rudrakshayoga.wordpress.com)
If you don’t want to turn your body into pretzel why trust a yoga teacher’s advice on breathing? Their exercise called Alternate Nostril Breathing is a prime example of how to make something easy seem complicated. The practice is supposed to calm stress — which is our enemy because it wears away the protective ends of our DNA and invites illness. Breathing through one nostril at a time is supposed to interrupt the stress cycle and bolster the health of our genes. That may be so, but I’m dubious and invite you to try it. Sit comfortably and begin by pressing “the fleshy part of your thumb against your right nostril. Exhale and inhale once through your left nostril. Release your thumb and press your index finger on your left nostril. Exhale and inhale once through your right nostril. Repeat for 27 rounds 3 times a day.” (Ibid pg. 110)
(Courtesy of breathinggene.blogspot.com)
27 rounds 3 times a day? That’s the dubious part. I admit I breathe all day and all night but who has time to count? What’s more, the pose strikes me as unnatural. What’s the point of having two nostrils, if we’re only allowed to use one?
And think about it. Sitting in a room filled with people holding their noses is funny. I want to laugh but know I shouldn’t. The tension is stressful. Besides, why should I suppress a good belly laugh when it’s the best form of breathing I know.
(Orignally posted 5/5/14)