The breath as a metaphor for life
An inhale brings expansion, fullness, coolness and it's naturally nourishing
An exhale brings contraction, emptiness, warmth and it's naturally cleansing
Expressing our balance means making space for all of these qualities and knowing which is being overused or ignored.
For example, if I am continuously inhaling life, every moment will be filled with something. I will tend towards overproducing, overworking, overeating, over shopping, exercising, dieting and expanding my energy which will eventually lead to a feeling of heaviness and over stimulation. The antidote will reside somewhere within the symbolism of the exhalation.
If we get lost in the exhale of life, contraction of body and mind through poor posture, shallow breathing, and excessive frowning leads to tension and we develop what I call seriousetosys (taking oneself too seriously) which brings inflammation (to much warmth) and we deplete.
As for the breath itself, it's common to have become a shallow breather, which means the diaphragm (the primary muscle of respiration) atrophies and we use chest and neck muscles which are supposed to be secondary muscles of respiration as primary muscles of respiration and tension builds up in the neck, shoulders, and back. In addition, when the breath is short, shallow and fragmented this fuels impatience, irritability, lack of focus and more.
By learning to unlock the diaphragm we reconnect with our natural and full breath which brings all of the elements found in the breath to life in every breath we take which in turn awakens the aspect of the mind that remembers to value them all.
The yoga practice Viparita Karani ( legs up the wall) is helpful in releasing tension and creating space for natural breathing. I explain how to practice it at the bottom of my blog yoga for better sleep but the best method to learn how to breathe effiently is to work privately with a teacher. I offer such classes and so do many established yoga teachers. It really is worth the effort.