Take a Deep Breath
by Elizabeth Phinney
The mind and our mindset have a great deal to do with our thoughts. If we can control our thoughts, then we have a good chance of controlling our life. But, what happens when our thoughts run rampant and it seems we can’t rein them in?
Take a deep breath.
What exactly does taking a deep breath do? For starters, it slows us down. It allows our body to take in more oxygen, use more of our lung capacity and send more oxygen to our brain. By taking two to three deep breaths, we have the ability to stimulate our body and relax it simultaneously.
Meditation is often controlled by how we breathe, suggesting to take long deep breaths and focusing on the breath. BodSpir, a meditative strength training technique, is strength training in rhythm with our breathing, allowing the pace of our breath to determine the pace of our movement. Yoga postures are also directed by how to breathe within each asana (pose.) These types of focused breathing enhance our flexibility and allow the body some freedom of movement or relaxation it typically does not experience.
But most likely the most effective use of “taking a deep breath” is to relieve stress. When we undergo stress, our body produces a hormone called cortisol. Back in the “fight or flight” days, this was a handy tool to enhance our chance of survival when our life was in danger. It triggered us to react swiftly and safely. In modern times, however, our body still produces the cortisol, but typically our stress in not caused because our life is in danger. Consequently, our body holds onto and stores this cortisol, which is not good for one’s health. According to the Mayo Clinic, the higher our stress rate, the more susceptible we are to an increased risk of anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain and memory/concentration impairment.
By incorporating some relaxation techniques such as meditation, BodSpir or yoga, stress levels can stand a fighting chance with the crazy hustle and bustle of our day to day living.