Why So Much Focus On The Breath In Yoga?

Well, for starters, one of the ultimate aims of Yoga is to tame the non-stop chatterings of the mind. So keeping the mind focussed on one thing while practising Yoga - as opposed to just letting the mind wander freely - means for that space of time you are ceasing your mind's chitchat.

But, why the breath? Why not focus on something else? Surely focussing on anything - for example, the teacher's voice or the music playing - will achieve the same thing? Yes, that's true. Focussing on any one thing can temporarily conquer the fluctuations of the mind, just as focussing on the breath can. But the breath is a better choice for two reasons.

For one, the breath is a major factor in keeping us alive. So by focussing on the breath, we are focussing on something that is of utmost importance to our very existence.

The second reason is that the breath is always with us everywhere we go. Our teacher's voice is not, and neither is music. But our breath is.

The first breath in your life after birth is an inhale, and the last breath before you die is an exhale. In between that first inhale and that last exhale is our lives, and our breath is our constant companion throughout. So unlike anything else, we have immediate access to it at all times. Therefore, in moments of stress during daily life we can always use it as a focal point to concentrate on in order to calm ourselves.

Getting stressed while waiting in a long queue at the post office? Take your attention to your breath. Feeling road rage coming on after someone cuts you off on the highway? Shift your focus to your breath. Having a difficult day at work? Take a few moments to concentrate on your breath.

To seriously benefit from practising Yoga, one must take what is learnt on the mat into their daily life. After all, our time on the mat is a very small amount of time within any twenty-four hour day. Therefore it's the Yoga we do off the mat that really counts.

In practising Yoga we literally put ourselves into one difficult position after the other, and learn to breathe through them all. We learn to stay focussed and calm despite the difficulty we are experiencing. And that is the real lesson of Yoga: that no matter how difficult a position you're in, you can always breeeathe to find inner calm. Sure, it's not a solution to the problem at hand, but it will mean that no matter how wild the storm gets you can maintain peace within yourself. And that, my friends, is why there's so much focus on the breath in Yoga.

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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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