I (pause gasping for air) want to (pause gasping for air) check out (pause gasping for air) that bar (pause gasping for air) up the (pause gasping for air) DAMN street! (turns oxygen machine up)
My father 65 years old the strongest man I know, plagued with COPD chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, involving constriction of the airways and difficulty or discomfort in breathing.
My father has had this horrible disease for years. I didn’t even begin to understand the severity of his condition until he had a stroke last year. See my father is like T’Challa from Black Panther- a King, a Warrior, a Change Maker.
It’s hard to see him gasp for life. It makes the art of breathing even more profound to me.
I first began to notice the power of breath when began the practice of yoga. I guess you say, “all you damn yogis talk about is breathing. I breathe all the time.” Well it is true you do breathe, some of us without effort all day everyday. But what if you take something you are doing by default and use it to better your quality of life?
The breath is such a powerful tool. The science behind breathing will make you appreciate this powerful life force (even if it smells like onions).
According to an article in Forbes, controlling your breathing calms your brain.
While the admonition to control breathing to calm the brain has been around for ages, only recently has science started uncovering how it works. A 2016 study accidentally stumbled upon the neural circuit in the brainstem that seems to play the key role in the breathing-brain control connection. The circuit is part of what’s been called the brain’s “breathing pacemaker” because it can be adjusted by altering breathing rhythm (slow, controlled breathing decreases activity in the circuit; fast, erratic breathing increases activity), which in turn influences emotional states. Exactly how this happens is still being researched, but knowing the pathway exists is a big step forward. Simple controlled breathing exercises like the 4-7-8 method may work by regulating the circuit.
Now if you are thinking to yourself- what would Forbes know about breathing? Then try it yourself. Take a moment and close your eyes, notice your breath and only your breath. See how you feel…don’t worry. I will wait.
The breath is a life tool (pun intended) you can use it for so many things. From calming your nerves to lowering your blood pressure.
According to http://www.measureuppressuredown.com/, High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most prevalent health conditions facing Americans. In fact, 68 million Americans – 1 in every 3 U.S. adults – have high blood pressure, and nearly 20 percent do not know they have it. Sadly, the disease can lead to other health problems, including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.
Slow, deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system which decreases the heart rate and dilates blood vessels, reducing your overall blood pressure. As your breathing becomes slower, your brain associates it with a state of relaxation, which causes your body to slow down other functions like digestion.
Breathing is not only a life force, but a life enhancing tool as well. Instead of just breathing, really take time to focus on your breath. Allow it to help you help yourself. The next time you find yourself pissed off because someone cut you off or your teenager is riding the wave of your last nerve: Focus on your breath, take deep long breaths in and out, notice that you are alive.
EBONY SMITH, a.k.a ‘The Ghetto Guru’ is a certified Trauma Informed Yoga Therapist, Neuro Language Practitioner and Wellness Coach, 500 RYT. Founder and CEO of Yoga N Da Hood a non-profit organization dedicated to making wellness accessible to everyone through the practice of yoga and mindfulness. Ebony has taught yoga and mindfulness all around the world, Wanderlust, Wellspring, Bali Spirit Festival, South By South West SXSW, Essence Festival and a number of other festivals, conferences and events. Ebony is a Public Voices Fellow of the OpEd Project.