Welcome to the GLOB RX Ayurvedic Coach Column. Ayurvedic Health Coach Chaya~Sharon Heller provides the reader with information helping to recognize personal tendencies and how a few simple changes in diet and lifestyle can go a long way to improving your health and vitality.
hen asked, most adults would agree they are aware of what changes in their lifestyles would improve their health. So that begs the question, "Why, as a country, are we so unhealthy?" Most adults want to make changes but find changes are hard to make. As humans, we like familiarity. You may have heard the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. My primary job as a Certified Health Coach, is to support my clients, with education, tools and techniques that assist them in re-engineering habits to move them in the direction of optimal wellness.
Controlling respiration regulates your being
Our breath governs movement, integration and connection, and is the link between mind and body as an integral part of the interplay within a dynamic feedback loop of our thoughts, breathing and nervous system, which includes the vagus nerve, proven to govern all the organs and functions of the body and mind. This energy network corresponds to the nervous system, in yoga terms, called the nadis, the subtle channels where energy is absorbed and flows through the body and mind. Therefore, when we control our respiration we control every aspect of our being.
Different patterns of breathing result in various affects, and understanding how to use this system is foundational to the science and practice of yoga, and constructing an appropriate and effective yoga posture sequence coordinating specific breathing methods with specific yoga postures that are tailored to the individuals constitution and condition and for the purpose of integrating the nervous system, resulting in a calm mind, clear senses and perception to become free from our repeated thought patterns. The first limb of yoga practice begins with using the breath to move our attention from desires to focusing on our goals.
Breath is often referred to as prÄna, or life force. The system of Hatha Yoga is yoga postures coordinated with breathing that is based on balancing and increasing the flow of life force in the body in addition to balancing the nervous system. PrÄna exists in all things, and is abundant in air, food, sunlight and water, and expressed through the breath.
The key to understanding prÄna and energy is breath. One who has strong lungs and good breathing capacity usually has abundant energy and when the mind is clear and balanced, the breath is even and rhythmic and the parasympathetic nervous system or "rest and digest" is dominant. When the mind is nervous and tense, the breath is strained and erratic and the autonomic nervous system or "fight or flight" is dominant. When we are in the "fight or flight" mode, our body and mind go into a cascade of chemical changes creating toxins and inflammation, putrefying and dulling our senses so that they are unable to perceive directly or interact with life skillfully.
When we can increase the prÄna in our system by increasing our lung capacity, and steadying the breath to become even and rhythmic, the mind becomes clear and the nervous system becomes balanced with parasympathetic dominance. When the mind is nervous or tense, the breath is strained and erratic, depleting energy, and causing stress, strain and confusion or sympathetic dominance.
A Yoga and Breathing practice that is appropriately tailored to each individual, removes obstacles that inhibit clear perception and prepares the mind for the process of directing it towards a chosen goal.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The GLOB team welcomes Certified Health Coach and Ayurvedic Practitioner, Chaya-Sharon Heller, creator of the ChayaVeda Integrative Healing Arts and the Ayurvedic Health Coaching Column. Chaya brings over 25 years of experience as a Certified Holistic Health Educator, Health Coach and Ayurvedic Practitioner, Performing Artist, and Spiritual Teacher with a unique approach to health