Keep Calm and Breathe Deeply…

The question of the day is:

What is a simple method of enhancing my well-being, health and happiness? 

The answer:

Before we get the answer, I would firstly like to ask you – have you ever noticed how in everyday language we express the link between our emotions and our psyche? For example,

He is such a pain in the neck!” orpain in neck

I am so happy I could burst with joy!” or

Feeling a bit ungrounded and legless at the moment..”

Okay, so maybe that last one is more specific to amputees but you get my drift.

Have you also noticed how we physiologically feel emotions within the body? For example, when we are afraid, our heart starts racing, our hands tremble and our breathing may become short and irregular (Lewis, 2006). Quite similar to when you lean in for that first kiss right?! (Hopefully it was a memorable one; note to self – tell future children to carry gum with them and learn from my garlic breath mistakes – poor bloke…). On a more serious note though, have you ever stopped and wondered what negative impacts your unhelpful feelings and emotions are having physiologically and mentally upon the body?

Not to get too technical, but through vasoconstriction, restriction of glucose to our cells, a minimized production of insulin and increased blood glucose, our bodily functions are impacted as a result of our emotions (Bhogal, 2011). Over time, we may develop diseases such as diabetes (Bhogal, 2011). Not great news right?

Another common emotion experienced by people in our current society is stress. Stress impacts most bodily systems, alters our hormones, and changes the metabolism of carbs, fats and proteins. Potentially this can lead to leukemia, hypertension, peptic ulcers, or diabetes (Desai, 1990).

cavemanWithin our current society, unfortunately most people are chronically stressed. As a result, we live in a continuous stream of what is known as the ‘fight, flight, or freeze response’ (probably a similar response to that first kiss!). These specific responses were developed when we were living in caves and needed to be on high alert for any physical danger such as dinosaurs and other predators. Physiologically when we enter into this response, our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes rapid and hallow, our digestion ceases with all blood flowing to the all important heart, brain and muscles, and adrenalin and cortisol are released. If we continuously live in this hardwired response, we can wind up with adrenal fatigue (D’Ascenzo, 2009; Salerno, 2009), burnout, chronic fatigue, gall stones, and a myriad of other diseases. Not so much fun.

So the second question of the day is:

How can we control our emotions and physiological responses knowing that these responses are normally under unconscious control? How can I maintain optimal health and well-being?

The answer to both questions of the day is:

Through the breath.keep calm and breathe

For the past two weeks in my studies, I have come to understand the importance of the breath, and how it connects our minds and our bodies. Yes, one could almost say I have a new bromance happening with my breath, especially given the current sinus infection (and yes I am stopping there and will not bore you all with the grisly details of that infection. What happens between me and the nasal/sinus-wash pump stays in the bathroom)…

Okay, back on track. Our bodies and our minds are inextricably. How you might ask? The link can be found within our nervous system (Whitehead, 2014). Although breathing is usually an unconscious act and controlled by the autonomic nervous system (Salerno, 2009), we can regain conscious control of the breath through practice (Rama, 1979). As a result, manipulating the breath is akin to changing the mind.

Have you ever stopped and thought about the importance of your breath? Breathing is the first thing we do when we enter the world, and most people will die if they do not breath for a few minutes. However, most of us do not take a conscious breath in our lives. This is a real shame as through being conscious of the breath, we are able to calm the mind and the body. And the result? Better health, well-being, and happiness. Now that is definitely a lot more fun.

 

Until next time,

Ride with purpose, ride with a smile, ride in the moment, ride with your breath,

Han

 

Did get a bit technical – so here are the references:

Bhogal, R. K. (2011). Pranayama Teacher Training: Science of Pranayama. {Class Handout}. Kaivalyadham Yoga Institute, Lonavla, India.

D’Ascenzo, L. (2009). How Physical Symptoms Alert you to an Emotional or Mental State. Enlightened Feelings. Retrieved 24th September from http://www.enlightenedfeelings.com/symptoms.html.

Desai, B. P. (1990). Biochemical Parameters in Stress. Yoga Mimamsa, 29(1), 20-29. Lewis, D. (2006). The Tao of Natural Breathing (pp. 55). New Baskerville: Publishers Group West.

Rama, S. (1979). The Royal Path – Practical Lessons on yoga. Honesdale: Himalayan Institute Press.

Santana Salerno, D. (2009). Pranayama Module 1. {Lecture Notes}. Australian Yoga Academy, Melbourne, Australia.

Whitehead, J. (2014). Mindfulgym Diploma in Mindfulness Therapy: Class Notes. Mindful Gym, Melbourne, Australia.

2017-05-28T11:47:11+00:00 March 28th, 2015|Blog, News, Uncategorized|

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