Breathe Easy and Often

April 8, 2020  |  Comments are off

Photo by Skitterphoto/Canva

If you had access to a free, never-ending resource that would calm your body and mind and improve your overall health, wouldn’t you use it?

Especially now?

Breathing is that resource. It’s easily discounted: “If I weren’t breathing, I wouldn’t be alive, right?” But just as we can survive eating food that’s either health promoting or decidedly not, how we breathe matters.

“One 2012 study in the journal Pain Medicine found that five-minute periods of deep breathing led to statistically significant improvements in pain detection and tolerance among healthy adults. And a 2005 study found that two minutes of slow, controlled breathing led to a 6% drop in blood pressure scores among people with hypertension.”

from “A Single Deep Breath Is the Quickest Way to Relieve Stress

Understanding the need to breathe in new ways is the first step. Doing it intentionally on purpose, day after day, brings the benefits. It’s thought to take thirty days of repeating a behavior to create a habit. If your inner disciplinarian rears its head, gently thank it for helping, reassured that you can sustain your new habit by practicing dailyish (with thanks to the folks at Ten Percent Happier).

When I taught yoga, sometimes I would lead participants lying facedown in relaxation pose. I’d invite them to become aware of their backs rising and falling with the breath, to gently and comfortably emphasize the movement of the entire back. We all found it relaxing and soothing.

Now medical professionals are recommending this as a lifesaving technique for those who fall ill. For healthy people, facedown breathing is calming and soothing. I’ve added this to my daily mindfulness routines. Doing it regularly builds the skill and creates a pleasurable habit that serves us in sickness and in health.

Breathe in and know you’re breathing in.

Breathe out and know you’re breathing out.

We join you in this, breathing together.