For many students new to yoga, it is a common curiosity: why is there so much focus on breathing? I am not going to pretend that these are all the reasons inclusive, as that is beyond the scope of this article. I will give you a few reasons, starting with the most superficial:
1) The breath oxygenates your blood and muscles, increasing your ability to relax and stretch, finding “space” in the poses. This is the “physical reason”
2) Awareness of one’s breath can be stress reducing. This is the “mental reason”
3) Connecting breath with movement prepares one for meditation (meditation is one of the stated goals of yoga) This is the metaphysical, i.e. “beyond physical/mental reason”
These are three wonderful and important reasons. Which beg the question, “How soon will I feel these benefits if I add breath awareness to my yoga practice?”
If you are seriously attending to your breath, and not just playing “Simon Says” in your yoga class, in about two minutes you will feel the effects noted in number one. If you create a consistent yoga practice, in about two weeks you may start to notice that you sleep deeper, stress less, and feel calmer in a state of crisis. And if you start exploring the other arms of yoga in addition to asana, for example meditation, pranayama, eating well, ahimsa etc. in about two months you will see much improvement to your lung capacity and over health. In about two years, you may start to gain profound personal insights, life changing new perspectives.
So Rock on with your yoga practice, and please, don’t forget to breathe!