Own your breath, and no one can take away your peace.
I’m going to make a rather bold yet simple assumption: if we spent more time ‘deep breathing’ the world would be a better place. Period.
This might sound rather herbal and typically ‘yogic’ of me, but let’s not forget where I came from – a country girl who’s first yoga class felt totally foreign to her amongst walls donned with deities and incense and who’s idea of a perfect night is one that’s in on the couch of a Friday night watching the football with a glass of beer.
I’m not joking, I think we should spend 5 minutes, three times a day doing nothing but deep breathing. I know for sure it will help ease anxiety, and to some extent, depression for so many people. It has for me.
According to Beyond Blue, in any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety.
I have a funky feeling these numbers are only going to rise if we continue to be addicted to our devices and downplay their role on our human condition. I think they’re making us feel more and more isolated.
A few nights ago I taught a Yoga Masterclass (thanks to all the sweaty yogis who came along and moved with me). The focus was on breath work, and in particular Ujjayi and Breath of Fire, plus a closer exploration of the commonly used Bandhas (or locks/seals) we use to manipulate energy in the body.
Throughout the session I touched on the effects of the breath and how it’s quality is directly linked to our mental state.
I know personally if I’m feeling anxious and uptight about something, my abdomen and jaw grips and my breath becomes shallow. If this continues for long enough, it results in poor digestion and a headache. Ultimately, I don’t feel so good. And when I don’t feel so good, I’m more susceptible to anxiety and bouts of sadness.
I truly believe, breath is key to calm.
Now let me be clear and say I don’t think deep breathing can cure all anxiety and depression as some cases are extreme and incredibly immobilising. But an awareness of your breath can relieve the mild to severe cases – and I would know. I got into yoga when I wasn’t in a great place mentally. Within a month of immersing myself in it, I came off valium anti depressants and continue, to this day, to use the practice of yoga (including breath work) as my medicine.
How empowering is it that we have the ability to change state and reduce our ‘reactivity’ to certain situations by taking a few deep breaths?
So your challenge, if you choose to take it:
THREE TIMES DAILY – push yourself away from your desk, peel the phone out of your hand and pick yourself up off the floor when you’re having a down moment.
Breath deeply for five minutes. Focus on the breath and it’s full inhalation and flu exhalation. It doesn’t have to be forced.