(i) What is conscious breathing?
The breath. Without breath, there is no life. In fact, the word “spirit” means epistemologically to breathe. Breathing is the one function of the body that we can consciously control. The heart, and the mind all have a life of their own. But, by consciously controlling our breath, we too can begin to take back just a little bit of control over our mental and emotional wellbeing.
Conscious breathing is actually one of the eight limbs of Yoga, called ‘pranayama’, or life force control. There are a number of specific exercises and techniques that one can apply (which should only be down with an experienced yoga practitioner), but on a more simple level, controlling the level of our inhale compared to our exhale, can have a calming effect upon the body and mind. Simply, by doubling the length of the exhale compared to the inhale, we activate the parasympathetic nervous system, inducing a relaxation response in the body. This is a very effective means of stress reduction, especially when faced with high pressure situations in the office, or prior to or during the giving of presentations.