A sigh is just a sigh! ... Or is it?

As humans we are programmed to strive and thrive. We are always looking ahead, at the next thing, eager for what is coming next. When we need to calm ourselves down, or to energise, we think of taking a deep breath, we think of flooding our bodies with oxygen to fuel us on. This is indeed good thinking; however, as yogis, our approach is a little different, as yogis we are all about the exhale. 

Take a deep sigh. Take a few. A big deliberate exhale, all the way out. You’ve just emptied your lungs of carbon dioxide, the stuff we don’t want in our bodies. When you exhale completely, your body is designed to take a “reflex” inhale. By releasing your ribs and expelling all air in the lungs, you engage the spring-like action of your ribs to expand and create a partial vacuum, and the air comes in as a reflex. This is what we call an optimal breath.

Thankfully our clever bodies prompt us to do this all the time. Think about the sign of exasperation, “FFS!” The next breath is is calming. Think about the deep sigh of relief, “Phew!” The next breath is is grounding, everything is ok. Think about the long sigh of contentment. “Ah, this is the life.” The next breath in is rejuvenating. 

As a teacher I’ll often tell you to sigh. Sometimes I encourage a quiet, gentle sigh. Quite often I’ll tell you to go for it … my favourite … the deliberate audible sigh. What sound comes out? What is it expressing? 

It’s not just a sigh. It’s a messenger bringing you wisdom from the greatest source of wisdom you can access, your body. Welcome it, notice it, go with it, release it, let it go. 

“We are meant to express how we feel about life. It’s like breathing: inhale the experiences of life, exhale how you feel about them. We are at our best when we can turn our impressions into expressions. The equation goes like this, impression without expression equals depression.” 

Don Hahn. 


Sylvia FergusonComment