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Kapitel 1

Breath and Breathing

We all breathe of course, but we seldom consciously use the ways in which breathing can help us focus. Breathing may seem simple, but it is not. How do you breathe? Where do you feel your breath? How does it feel? When it’s cold outside, your breath may feel sharp. When you have a stuffy nose, it may feel as if your breath got stuck. Have you ever wondered what the little hairs in your nose are good for? What other questions do you have about your breath and breathing? Mindful breathing turns you into a scientist or researcher exploring your own body.

How does breathing help us focus? Imagine yourself looking very closely at an ant on a windowsill. If you look at it long and hard, you see many details that you would not see if you just glanced at it for a second or two. By paying attention to your breath, you actually inhale more oxygen, which is good for your heart and blood.

Try this:

Sit back in your chair for
a moment and take a couple of deep breaths … in and out … in and out … in and out … in and out … Remember how you felt when you thought your parents were angry with you and then found out that they weren’t. What happened to your breath then?

Yawn …

«Großes Gähnen»

Hat einer von Euch schon mal erlebt, dass jemand ohnmächtig wird? Für mich war das ein ganz schöner Schock! Da liegt plötzlich meine Freundin im Turnsaal und rührt sich nicht mehr. Die leeren Augen starren mich an und sie liegt bewegungslos auf dem Boden! Woran denkt man in so einem Fall? Ist sie tot? Lebt sie noch? Atmet sie noch? Was mache ich jetzt?

Da wird uns plötzlich klar: Der Atem ist unser Leben. Er macht uns aus. Unser Leben beginnt und endet mit einem Atemzug.

Atmen ist für uns ganz selbstverständlich. Wir denken nicht darüber nach, es geht ganz von alleine, außer vielleicht wenn wir uns mal zu sehr anstrengen: dann keuchen wir und schnappen nach Luft. Ist der eine oder andere von Euch schon mal auf einen Berg gestiegen? Da spürt man, wie das Atmen plötzlich schwer und anstrengend wird.

Was Euch aber sicher nicht so bewusst ist: Der Atem ist Eure Tank- stelle. Mit dem Atem könnt Ihr all Eure Organe unterstützen. Sie funktionieren viel besser mit Eurer Hilfe.

Das Üben lohnt sich.

… in and out …
just this

  • stand upright
  • your spine reaches upwards
  • shoulders relaxed
  • both feet planted on the ground
  • breathe in through your nose while inhaling your stomach fills
  • with fresh air exhale
    • Forward Fold
    • plant both feet on the ground
    • bend your upper body over the table
    • both hands touch the table
    • raise your upper body and while doing so
    • breathe in deeply
    • lean forward towards the table
    • breathe out
    • stand on the ground with both feet feel, sense your body
    • every cell starts to soften and melt while bending forward breathe out
    • the palms of your hand slightly touch the floor
    • return to upright position while breathing in
      benefits of exercise THREE
      • helps you to focus your attention inward
      • lengthens your whole spine stretches your hamstrings
      • gives you energy

      explore this … direct bodily sensations

      1 minute of breathing Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes, if you are comfort- able doing that. If not, look down at an object on the floor or on the table in front of you. Let your shoulders relax, but sit up straight. Your feet are resting comfortably on the floor. I will start a timer for you to count your breaths for one minute. One breath consists of inhaling and exhaling fully. We are just observing, becoming aware of our breathing, we are not trying to change it in any way. This is not a competition, you don’t have to share your result with anyone when we are done. Just count and observe your breaths. If it helps you to place your hands on your belly and / or your chest, please do so. I will tell you when to stop; try to forget about the time. Ready, start … inhale and exhale at your own pace. Maybe you can observe how your breathing feels in your nose, your throat, your chest, or your belly. If your mind wanders, bring it back to counting. If you lose track, just do your best to figure out the number of your breaths. … one minute later STOP and remember the number of breaths you took during this minute. Next time we do this, take note of any changes in the number of your breaths. Think about why these changes might have occurred. Are you tense, worried, or excited? Are you calm and in the moment? Try this anytime you are waiting in line at a store, stuck in traffic, or just really bored listening to your teacher or boss. You don’t even need a timer. After your practice, you will remember your 1-minute breathing pace and you can do this exercise anytime you want to give yourself the gift of noticing your amazing breath.

      Es gibt noch etwas zu entdecken!

      Do you sense your nostrils while you are breathing in and out?

      Do you feel the changes in your breath?


      Do you sense the breath in your belly?

      Put your hand on your stomach once in a while.


      In breathing there are two kinds of grace:

      To draw air into, then out of, your space.
      The one presses down, the other refreshes;
      Thus marvelously life’s web intermeshes.
      You thank God whenever he hems you in,
      And thank him whenever he frees you again.

      Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

      A Story about Breath

      from the Upanishads

      The senses are getting together and start having an argument about which of them is the most important one. Eyes, ears, nose and so on – and breath. As they cannot reach a solution they decide that every single sense will go on a journey for a certain period of time. And during the absence of one sense the others will observe what life is like without this respective sense. So each sense goes on a journey for a while; in the meantime, the others adjust very well to the situation. Breath is the last to leave, but before he gets very far, the others start feeling very bad, they nearly pass away, and they call out to breath: «Please come back, please come back, without you nothing, really nothing, is going well!».

      Verein für Achtsamkeit in Osterloh e.V.

      Nimm Teil an unseren Kursen ``Learning by doing``