In Praise of Breathing


Pranayama. I’m besotted with it.

The use of breath is one of the eight limbs of yoga. It’s all I
can think about these days, which makes for disastrous conversations
in grocery stores. (“Have you practiced exhaling lately? You
haven’t?” Blank stares. “Would you like to try it?” Blank
stares. “Okay, then. Have a great day, anyway. If that’s
possible, without really exhaling.”)

Today, I’m head over heels with exhalations. Some pranayama article, somewhere, suggested I focus solely
on a slow, full exhalation, and then let the inhalations take care of
themselves. It’s as simple as that.

Here’s what’s beautiful:

  1. Who ever exhales completely? No
    one, is the answer. In our regular life, we exhale half  way,
    leaving our lungs half-filled with stagnant, jammy air that would
    rather be outside mingling with the the fresh air.

  2. You haven’t felt your beautiful
    abs until you’ve practiced exhaling. My god, they’re happy to
    be asked to play when you decide to exhale fully. Imagine
    developing a gorgeous belly, just by deciding to breathe well.

  3. After a purposeful exhalation, there follows a delicious, huge, effortless inhalation. You feel like an Olympic athlete
    taking a lungful on Mount Everest.

  4. This breathing changes your mind,
    literally. Your head clears. It sparkles. It turns inside out. If
    you’re looking for an intoxicating welcome to meditation,
    this is it.

This may sound like hyperbole. It
isn’t. Try it at your desk/mat/locker/grocery-store and get back
to me. And if you’ve been doing it for years, let us know what it’s
like over time. I can’t imagine how it might change a person.

Thanks for exhalation. Thanks to yoga
for providing so many paths to beauty. And thanks to you for the


Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All
Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the
and on
and on

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