Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and while this has lead to many magnificent modern conveniences, stress has run wild as a result from a detachment from our more primal nature. According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, more than 8 in 10 Americans are attached to their gadgets on a daily basis, and 86% of them said they are constantly checking their emails, texts, and social media accounts. Simply put, the more people checked their devices, the more stressed out they felt. So, what do we do about the multiple modern stressors? Here’s one of the most simple and cost-effective solutions:
The ancients were on to something.
There are many deep breathing exercises available that date back to the ancients, and now science is finally catching up with the medicinal benefits and major neurochemistry upgrade that can be achieved through popular practices such as Kundalini yoga. One ancient yogic breathing technique in particular, the Ujjayi breath, has long been noted for its:
- Detoxification of mind and body.
- Relief of tension.
- Energy build.
- And increase in the amount of oxygen in the blood.
Why is proper breathing so important?
Breathing properly can be a huge way to update your overall health. In fact, breathing is the bridge between mind and body, and the connection between consciousness and unconsciousness. What makes this human function even more powerful, is that it’s the only one we perform both consciously and unconsciously. It’s controlled by two sets of nerves – one which belongs to the voluntary nervous system and the other to the autonomic system. Simply breathing more deeply helps lower your blood pressure, calm your heart rate, and aid in your digestion too. Even more, it has a deep and direct connection to our emotional state and mood. Notice yourself when you feel angry or upset. How is your breathing? Typically, you will find short, shallow breathing as a result of this mood shift. We can actually alter our mood by changing the way we breathe! In fact, you cannot be upset if your breathing is slow, deep, and consistent.
Find the right fit.
One of the coolest things about being more mindful about breathing is that there are so many practices to choose from. Here are a few ideas to help discipline your breathing (and perhaps curate a new interest:)
This is a rather broad topic, but there are many facets that could become a new habit to help you breathe more deeply and fluidly. Kundalini yoga, for example, implements actions such as the breath of fire – a cleansing and energizing breath, powered by your abdominal contractions. Start with long, deep breathing and as soon as the lungs are expanded, immediately force the air out, arching the spine forward and pressing the palms inward against the knees. If that exercise sounds a bit too intense, just a classic yoga session will help to loosen the body and steady the breath.
Meditation does not have to mean sitting on a cushion, with your eyes closed for hours. Technology can be on our side in this case, and there are even apps to help guide you through simple meditations. Even if you just pause for a few minutes to observe the way you breathe, you will feel a tremendous difference. This type of deep breathing found in many meditation practices has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, relax muscles, decrease stress, and increase energy levels too. When you breathe deeply and slowly like this, you activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which ultimately reverses the stress response in the body.
- Just. Slow. Down.
There are many incredible outlets to help restore our energy and instill better breathing habits. Whether it’s the Kundalini fire breath or simply sitting down to meditate each day, the opportunity to reset our way of living and the power to upgrade our habits rests in our hands. Keeping things simple is key and the fact remains that there are no ordinary moments. Learn the Art of Stopping Time by acknowledging the way it feels to have the sun shining on your face as you walk to your car, or the warmth of your coffee mug in your palms as you sip slowly. The micro-decisions we make daily can accumulate into something greater – the joy of living. Take your time, breathe in the beauty of nature, and find something to be grateful for every day.
You’ll breathe better in no time.