I have always been fascinated with the power of breath.
We carry it with us at all times. We breathe somewhere around 20,000 breaths every day. Most of us barely give our breath any thought at all. Yet how we breathe can have everything to do with our health and well-being.
Try it for yourself:
Close your eyes (after reading this of course!) and simply watch and feel your breath, without changing it or judging it in any way.
Notice the length of the breath, the temperature, where it moves through your body, if it’s smooth or rough. Do this for just a few minutes or as long as you like. How do you feel? Relaxed, calm, peaceful, more present?
Help Reduce Stress: Bringing awareness to our breath, even for just a few minutes, can help us feel calm and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Research shows that stress is a contributing factor to many diseases.
Maybe while you were breathing you noticed the different qualities of the inhale and exhale. The inhale literally lifts and expands the body and provides inspiration and energy. The exhale contracts the body and provides a sense of release and grounding.
Which do you need more of?
- Need a boost of energy? Increase the length of your inhale.
- Need to relax and ground? Increase the length of your exhale.
I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s about ten years ago. While sick, she didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I’d sit with her and encourage her to breath in her right nostril and out her left nostril. Right nostril breathing, also called sun breath for its activating nature, stimulates the left side of the brain – the more logical, get up and go, side of the brain. Three rounds of ten would be just enough to get her to re-focus and provide that little boost of energy she needed to start her day. Try it if you feel sluggish yourself at any point during your day.
Trouble sleeping? Try the opposite. Left nostril breathing, or moon breaths for their more cooling and calming nature.
Bottom line: The way we breathe can have a tremendous impact on our energy, mood, stress level, focus and attention, and sleep. These are all factors in healthy aging. If you care for someone, personally or professionally, breath can be a tool to take care of both of you.
Have you paid attention to your breath today?
About the Author: Jane Stelboum is a Yoga Teacher/Trainer, a Certified Brain Longevity® Specialist, and founder of Sarasvate (sar-as-VAH-te´). Through workshops, private sessions and speaking engagements she shares how the tools of yoga, and other lifestyle choices, help maintain brain longevity and healthy aging.