The breath is likely the most portable and accessible health tool available to us. Dating back to ancient times, Wisdom has taught of the myriad ways that conscious engagement with our breath can impact us on physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and energetic levels.
Yogis refer to breath work as “pranayama”, which literally means the control of Life Force Energy through awareness of and sometimes active manipulation of the breath. Ancient texts have offered that if we want to control our life, we must learn to control our mind; and if we want to learn to control our mind, we must learn to control our breath.
Breath work practices can range from simple breath awareness meditation, where we use the breath as a means to cultivate the ability to consciously choose where our attention goes and develop the capacity for non-reaction, to many variations of techniques where the breath is intentionally altered to achieve a desired outcome. There are breath practices that can help create a sense of peace or calm in both our mind and throughout our nervous system, as well as those that can aid in balancing our energy as well as stimulating it in various ways.
Breath practices are excellent tools for our mental health toolboxes.