Our lives are busy. That of course, is an understatement. Every day seems to have increasingly less time with more demands on our energy. So, what is the best way to keep it all in balance? Any internet search will reveal a different approach to relieving stress or reducing anxiety, but none are more simple than meditation – the act of sitting quietly and breathing deeply.
Many of you may already have a yoga practice that incorporates meditation with a bit of breathing. While much of the focus in the west is on the physical benefits of asana the root of yoga is self-realization. Meditation is one way to practice and every layer of awareness brings forth an even greater awareness, sense of peace and calm. One of the most impactful practices for mind, body and spiritual health though, can be found through daily practice of breathwork.
Breathwork itself takes some level of commitment because there are techniques to learn and ways to breathe that will benefit systems of the body as well as ease the tension of the mind. Once these have become routine, a cultivated sense of self begins to emerge that is beyond just the mind or ego.
The ways breathing benefits all aspects of health are too many to list. So here’s the top 5:
Soothes the central nervous system
After a long day at work, a trip to the grocery store through a sea of traffic and dogs, family, kids waiting for you at home will leave anybody’s nerves frazzled. Take 5 minutes to yourself breathing slowly, counting silently to measure your breath and ensure it is even and deep. It’s a true salve for those overstimulated nerves.
Boosts energy and mood
When you feel like your’e in a slump, lagging, a bit fatigued, rather than reaching for a latte take a breath. In fact, take a few like this: inhale and exhale quickly with a little force focusing more on the exhale, engage the diaphragm using it to assist you in pushing all the oxygen out. It is recommended to only do a few of these quick jet breaths as they are very energizing!
Lowers blood pressure
Oxygen fills the lungs and every cell of the body, most importantly the heart muscle which increases its productivity. It sends fresh life giving oxygen to the rest of the body and replenishes every system and organ, nourishing it along the way. Deep breathing reduces heart rate as well as calms the mind. Take 3-4 slow deep breaths focus on inhaling to the count of four and exhaling to the count of six. It brings all the cells of the body back into balance.
This may seem obvious, but when you breath using the diaphragm you give your guts a massage which in turn creates movement, increases blood flow, circulation and thereby promotes digestion. It should be noted that our guts are intricately linked to the brain and are significantly impacted by our emotional state. Nervous? You probably lose your appetite. Breathwork can aid in releasing tension and emotional stress.
Promotes higher states of consciousness
What does this mean, exactly? It’s different for everyone, but generally speaking when you allow time to drop in and offer yourself the gift of space, silence and a moment to feel your breath regenerate your body, it’s hard to ignore the increased awareness one gains about themselves. This thousands-year old practice has been the foundational pillar for so many sages, gurus and ascended masters. It probably has something pretty amazing to offer us as well.
Breathwork is considered a science. If it is practiced following particular steps, many people can achieve similar results. Scientific studies of breathwork have sought to unravel the connection between meditative states and stress reduction, increased activity in the immune system and its demonstrated benefit on the central nervous system. The food we choose, whether we recycle, to the cars we drive, our health is important to both the individual and the earth and nothing is more attainable than this. A little time yields a high return on investment.