Everyday I’m lucky enough to go into my workplace and impact peoples lives, hopefully for the better. Many days are filled with people who come to see me for anxiety/stress/panic issues and in the past my go-to drugs were anti-depressants and sedatives. Now after graduating from yoga teacher training my go-to drug is the breath. We, the Western world, breathe from mid-chest up into our jaw. Our stress increases and our breath decreases. We’re supposed to breath deep into our bellies and we barely get there. Shallow breathing tells the brain we are in ‘flight or fight’ mode, the sympathetic nervous system. Good, deep, belly breaths allow the body to go into the parasympathetic or ‘rest and digest’ mode.
There are four ways the body gets rid of toxins and keeps homeostasis (balance): poop, pee, sweat and breath. For centuries Indian medicine has shown the endless benefits of breath, Prana or life force. The breath has shown to be effective in the bodies repair, recovery and overall function. Reports and studies have shown numerous benefits to the prana, including but not limited to:
– Decreasing blood pressure
– Decreasing heart rate
– Calming the mind
– Relaxing the body
– Boosts the immune system
– Slows the aging process
The easiest breath I can teach to my patients in my short visits are an extended exhale. I teach them that inhaling causes their blood pressure, heart rate and stress to go up and the exhale decreases blood pressure, heart rate and stress. So count inhale for 2-3 counts, hold for 2 counts and then exhale for 4-5, eventually building up to a 3:6 ratio breath. Think about pushing your belly out as you inhale and bringing your navel to your spine pushing out all the air from very bottom of your lungs all the way out into the world.
And just like that, you’ve stopped stressing!