“For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth.”

Sanskrit proverb

I spent last Sunday in London at a yoga workshop with the yoga and meditation teacher, Billy Doyle. Breathing is one of my areas of special interest as an osteopath, so I was particularly keen to learn from someone as experienced as Billy. The main technique we were taught was pranayama breathing (literally meaning “control of breath, or life force”).

One of the things I’ve noticed in my experience as an osteopath is that many people develop a tendency to breathe in a shallow manner, and also to use only the upper chest, rather than the diaphragm (ou main breathing muscle). And when you think what breathing achieves (apart from the obvious) – calming anxiety, reducing stress, improving your ribcage flexibility, improving circulation (blood and lymphatics), and even helping with digestion (as the diaphragm descends and massages your internal organs), etc. –  then this really matters! Often, we need to relearn how to breathe. The stresses and strains of modern life, pollution and obesity can all harm our healthy breathing patterns that we were born with.

By the way, if you want to see how we ought to breathe, watch a young child after running around, and you’ll see that effortless expansion of the tummy with each breath in. Cats and dogs are good examples, too.

The good news is that with the right advice, we can re-learn how to breathe, with countless health benefits!