How many deep and conscious belly breaths do you take every day?
My bet is you take very few, if any. You are not alone. By failing to pause and take a deep breath, you are doing your body, mind and spirit a disservice and may even be contributing to poor health.
In the Western world, we live a mostly sedentary, plugged-in life punctuated by an incessant stream of stimuli demanding our attention at every turn – social media, email, text messages, television, traffic and hyper-competitiveness at work, to name a few. As a result, our mind and body are constantly and unconsciously pushed into “fight or flight” mode, an automatic body response regulated by our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) that is associated with a shallow, chest-level, high-frequency breathing pattern.
While our “fight or flight” response is a great latent gift we possess, problems arise when we spend most of our waking (and sometimes even sleeping) time in this mode.
By consistently staying in a heightened state of “fight or flight,” we create a biological imbalance and literally burnout our life force, or Prana, as we say in yoga. Have you ever felt so stressed, anxious and tired that you felt paralyzed? That’s your body response to a continuous injection of stress hormones including adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol into our bloodstream at a great expense to our health, resulting in stress, anxiety and illnesses.