Breathing deeply is something a lot of us struggle with. We attend yoga classes and meditation sessions to be supported and encouraged to breathe deeply. To bravely invite life in, to invite in all the sensations, emotions, memories that come with the breath. To let go, to honour impermenance and open the heart to potential.
The lungs deliver the breath to the body. The lungs are a complex, hugely crucial filtration system. Physically, they fill almost the entire chest cavity from the collarbones to the diaphragm. They filter the oxygen we inhale through to our blood which then carries that oxygen through to every cell in the body. They detoxify via the exhale, expelling waste gas (carbon dioxide) from the blood.
The health of our lungs is key to our overall wellbeing. If our lungs are weak, we’re more prone to colds and getting sick. When our lungs are strong, we enrich our inner environment with plenty of prana and we expel waste easily. An easy, flowing, full breath supports the digestive system, strengthens the nervous system, promotes the circulation of blood and increases oxygen to the brain.
The lungs enable us to breathe and are the link between the physical body and the subtle body/spirit. The subtleties of the breath indicate how we are travelling physically, mentally and emotionally. The breath never lies (even when our mind does). The mind follows the breath. When the breath flows freely we are content, elevated and relaxed. When the breath is tight and shallow we are tense, anxious, fearful, unsure or something isn’t right – even if it should be.
THE EMOTIONAL QUALITIES of the lungs are COURAGE and CONNECTION TO SPIRIT. Consciously breathing takes courage and can be really challenging. Focused, conscious breathing heightens our awareness that we are a human body, that we must breathe to survive; A gentle reminder of the impermanence of life. The lungs are also associated with grief and letting go. We let go through the breath.
By fully inviting the breath in, we invite in life. A full deep breath is an invitation to life. This, in its own way, can be confronting and can take courage. Because of this, pranayama/breathwork and breathing consciously through the day creates a mental quality of endurance, confidence, clarity and tenacity. Notice how we take a deep breath before bravely plunging in. Or we exhale when we feel deflated, defeated, or let down.
Our lungs are connected intimately with our physical heart. Pranayama breathwork is connected intimately with the spiritual heart centre; the heart chakra. A space of compassion, love, joy and abundance, of intense emotion, of grief and letting go. Breathwork unlocks these qualities of the heart chakra.