Breathe to Relieve Stress!
You’d never think it, but breathing exercises are great (and easy) ways to manage stress, stay balanced and find more joy in life. Here are a few fun facts that might help you take a moment to breathe even deeper next time … (Excerpts borrowed from my Eating Disorder Recovery Yoga blog and Healthy Selfitude)
Benefits of meditation and breathing techniques (or pranayama)
In ancient Sanskrit, the word “pranayama” translates to mean “life force – lengthening” and is the practice and art of breathing in order to “yoke” or “unite” the body with the mind and spirit.
According to the National Institute of Health and leading experts (Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Herbert Benson), we know that breathing (pranayama) and meditation techniques have been medically proven to reduce stress and improve health.
Dr. Herbert Benson, M.D., a professor at Harvard Medical School discovered that meditation counteracts the effects of the sympathetic nervous system. During meditation, blood flow is directed to the parasympathetic nervous system and triggers relaxation. It actually counteracts the fight or flight mechanism that is triggered during conflict or under stress.*
Some of the results from his studies are listed below.
- reduced stress and anxiety
- increased creativity and intelligence
- reduced depression
- increased learning ability, moral reasoning and memory
- reduced irritability and moodiness
- increased self-esteem
- increased mindfulness
- improved relationships
- improved concentration
photo courtesy of photostock at freedigitalphotos.net
- may help lower blood pressure
- prevented, slowed or controlled pain
- boosted immune system
- lowered cholesterol levels
- improved airflow, especially in those with asthma
- younger biological age
Stay tuned for quick and easy exercises that you can use to manage stress.
*Benson,H.; Beary, J.; Carol, M. (1974) Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Processes, Vol 37(1), 37-46.