Slow your breath down, just take it slow, find your smile now

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I love a song with meaningful lyrics. Especially the kind that is accompanied by an equally wonderful melody. I first heard this song while watching an episode of One Tree Hill. One simple Google search, and some Youtube videos later I am fully acquainted with Future of Forestry

Their song titled ‘Slow your breath down’ reminds me of what I tend to forget to do for most of the time. And that is to breathe. Slowly and deeply.

One of the first things that I learned when I begin to attend Dr. Dhillip’s yoga classes was that the depth of your breath determines the length of your life. The deeper your breathe, the longer you live. That was one lesson that never left me and it is also one of the reason why I have been attending his classes regularly since 2006.

A typical class with him will usually end with about 20 minutes of breathing exercises. And I have to admit, despite the whole idea of longevity tied to the quality of your breath, this final part of the class is always something that I dread. You’re probably thinking, but it’s breathing! How hard can it be right? We all learn how to breathe the minute we were born when that doctor smacked us across the bum to welcome us into the world. Right? Maybe not. Stress, worrying and anxiety often leads many to either forget to breathe for long moments at a time (next time you are stressed, pay attention to your breathing!) or to take quick shallow breaths which leads one to utilize only 1/4 capacity of their lungs.

Yoga consists of a number of breathing exercises (pranayama) all of which are different in lengths of inhalation and/or exhalation. The Kapalbhati Pranayama is something that we practice regularly in our weekly classes that involves quick forceful exhalation followed by natural inhalation. 15 seconds into this, and if like me, you are a shallow breather, everything starts aching. Your back starts aching, your lungs starts to groan a little in pain, your abdomen protesting quietly and sometimes, you feel like you are running out of breath.

But you keep going, gentle in and forceful out, gentle in and forceful out, in quick rapid succession. And eventually the pain falls away and your head starts to lighten and your mind begins to quiet the noisy protests that’s going on in your head. And eventually you achieve a level of relaxation that you have been craving all week. It’s like climbing a hill, get past the hard work of getting up there, and when you eventually reach the summit, all you want to do is kick back and enjoy the view.

A recent article from Food Matters (7 Health Benefits of Meditation) talks about a study which found that deep relaxation can contribute towards an increase of disease fighting genes. Yeap, that’s right, regular meditation that achieves deep relaxation can actually change your genes!

So when that colleague in your office is ruffling your feathers all in the wrong way, or when your day is just not going the way you expect it to, remember the wise words of Eric Owyoung form the Future of Forestry “slow your breath down, just take it slow, find your smile now“.

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