alternative medicine body

Don't hold your breath: Breathing Exercise and Stress Management

Tuesday, June 03, 2014 HALFSTACK MAGAZINE

Last year I became a young entrepreneur and executive of a startup in Chicago, and I quickly learned what the real world means and the effect it has on one’s health. Stress mounts quickly as responsibilities pile up, high-risk decisions are made, and sacrifices become the norm. The first thing that can go out the window is your personal care, but as the old adage goes, you can’t take of anyone or anything else until you help yourself. As pressure increased, I began to feel the weight and worried it would have serious consequences on my health and my work. For the record, you do not want to add worry to your plate when it is already overflowing with professional stress.

I found myself very stressed, but then I read about the effect of breathing exercise and control. Stress causes shallow breathing, which in turn causes more stress and leads to fatigue and simultaneous trouble sleeping, which I definitely don’t need help with. It’s an ugly cycle that most people don’t notice most of the time, but it causes serious long-term health disorders.

I joined a Yoga studio and established a regular yoga practice twice a week. Yoga is a great way to stretch, get your blood flowing, and center the mind in a way that an office job hardly does, but the primary goal of my practice is the breathing exercise. The art of yoga breathing is called pranayama and it breaks your unconscious breathing pattern to create one that is long, smooth, and moves with ease - the opposite of what I was doing.

I also thought outside the box and bought a Breathslim respiratory trainer to help relieve the stress/shallow breathing cycle I was stuck in. Breathslim is a small breathing apparatus that you use for 20 minutes per day before going to sleep and it doubles your oxygen intake by training you to breath properly. Over a short time, it contributes to slower, deeper breaths all day.

Recently, a friend has turned me onto meditation. I have been to a couple of Kenny Kolter’s gong meditation sessions around Chicago and was surprised by its effect on the rhythm of my breathing. Kenny describes gong meditation as a “sound bridge” between energy and the spirit that also has physical health benefits. For me, the greatest reward of this practice has been similar to the breathing exercise I get from yoga, but it’s an interesting way to mix it up and keep my health routine fresh.

In business, small factors can have a big effect and details need to be monitored closely - and the same goes for your health. Eating well and exercise are important and can yield great results in terms of stress management, but they are nothing without a solid base of deep, rhythmic breathing.

Vlad Moldavskiy

Mind, Body & Spirit Blogger - Mabbly & Meet Advisors

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