Today I’ll start out with a brief vocabulary lesson. There will be
a quiz at the end of class, so please pay attention.
Just kidding. There won’t be a quiz, BUT…I think you’ll find this
little rumination of mine to be worthwhile and something you can
apply in your own life.
I’ve always found it interesting that in Latin, Greek and Hebrew,
three of the most ancient and widespread western languages of
antiquity, the words for breath and spirit or soul derive from the
In Latin,the word for breath and the word for soul are masculine
and feminine forms of the same root – “anima”.
In Hebrew, “ruwach” means “air in motion”, and also spirit, breath
In Greek, “pneuma” means a “current of air” or breathing and is
also associated with spirit in its meaning.
From ancient times, humans in both the East and the West have
associated our breath with our spirit. According to Genesis, when
God created the world he breathed on it. When God created
humankind, he breathed into it to give it life and spirit.
And of course, we’re all familiar with the role that breathing
plays in Eastern traditions, such as in Pranayama (breathwork /
spiritwork practices) from India or Chi Kung (energy work) from
China, Korea and Japan.
The common theme here is the connection of our breathing to our
spirit, our soul, and our energy.
I bring this up today because it’s a good reminder and an important
When I first began to study martial arts, I learned to use my
breathing and breath control as a means to an end: to help supply
me with more energy for specific strikes or blocks; to help me
improve my endurance; to help me take blows without being hurt.
It was a mechanical approach. Certainly useful and worthwhile, but
After I was diagnosed with asthma and was having so many problems
associated with my asthma, I reinvested in my breathing and energy
practices and really began to learn more, do more, experiment more.
Again, I used what I had learned and was learning as a means to an
end: to help me overcome my asthma and return to full health and
energy, with the ability to be active and engaged again, no matter
what the activity.
This was certainly useful and worthwhile and helped me restore my
health and quality of life. But it was still a mechanical approach.
In the years since then, I have continued to learn, practice, teach.
I have continued to use my breathing practice and energy exercises
as a means to an end.
But…I have also discovered another dimension that breathing and
energy exercises bring into my life.
It’s the fusion of breath and breathing with energy and spirit.
I feel a noticeable difference on those (few) days when I don’t
devote at least a few minutes to breathing.
Not only do I feel less energetic. I also feel less confident,
less sure of things. I can get a little moody. Not bad, and
maybe not even something that other people would notice. But I
notice, which is important.
My message to you is this:
Devote a little time each day to your breathing, to visualizing,
and to cultivating your energy.
(If you’re not sure how, or where to begin, I offer several
programs at the Best Breathing Exercises website that can help
you – http://www.bestbreathingexercises.com/.)
You might start your practice with a means to an end: to gain
more energy, to help overcome asthma or anxiety, to help transform
stress, to help you lose weight.
And that’s OK. Having a purpose or goal for your practice is
important and beneficial.
But keep in mind, even if in the back of your head, that your
breathing and energy exercises also offer you benefits and
meaning beyond simply the mechanical or the goal.
Set aside this time and this practice for yourself. You’ll be
richly rewarded on multiple dimensions.
You Can Do It!
“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”
Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2011
**The contents of this daily email are not to be considered as
medical advice. Always consult a physician before beginning or
changing any health or fitness regimen.**
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