Inhale. Exhale. Hey stressballs! It’s easy to get wrapped up in everyone’s asana, but what’s really the link to stress relief and relaxation? Why, something so mundane every human being does it without even thinking: breathing! NPR has a story on just how important ‘being good’ at breathing is to your overall health and happiness. Of course yogadorks know the importance, and positive effects of conscious breathing, otherwise referred to in the practice of pranayama, but hey it’s always great to read about how that simple, yet profound vibration of the lungs is getting more attention and well-deserved hype. Besides, who couldn’t use the reminder?
Research has shown that breathing exercises like these can have immediate effects by altering the pH of the blood, or changing blood pressure.
But more importantly, they can be used as a method to train the body’s reaction to stressful situations and dampen the production of harmful stress hormones.
Breathing helps calm the immediate and primal reaction of the flight-or-flight response, which is short for ‘Holy shit, I’m in danger! Must panic and run away!’ or ‘No, must tense up and stay and fight!’ If you’re not familiar with Herbert Benson, M.D., his theory on the countering process of ‘the Relaxation Response’, and his book by the same name, we invite you to explore your own ability to calm yourself in times of stress. His new book says a whole lot more.
In his new book, Relaxation Revolution, Benson claims his research shows that breathing can even change the expression of genes. He says that by using your breath, you can alter the basic activity of your cells with your mind.
“It does away with the whole mind-body separation,” Benson says. “Here you can use the mind to change the body, and the genes we’re changing were the very genes acting in an opposite fashion when people are under stress.”
Everybody! The answer, my friend…is blowing in the wind…
Great post, YD!
I’m the epitome of a stressball – so thank you very much for addressing us stress heads!
A friend of mine just told me about a book titled – A Life Worth Breathing by Max Strom. Have you read it? I really want to pick it up–it is supposed to have a lot of emphasis on yoga breathing.
In my search for Transpersonal development and better health, this seems like a good starting point.