Breath Practice: Don't believe me. Listen to an expert!

Carol Webster, June 2022

Being aware of your breath and developing the habit of deeper exhales has huge benefits.

Have you ever tried to help someone (maybe your kids?) develop a new habit that would benefit them, but they just don’t seem to understand why you are “on their case” about it? You think you are just encouraging them to incorporate simple things like drinking more water or making better food choices, but they roll their eyes and sigh.

One of these things I have been encouraging my family to do is to sit down and slow down when they eat. Being calm and restful helps to digest. If you digest better, your body can absorb nutrients that build better cells. It strengthens your immune system which helps you avoid colds and flu. There are many other great benefits.

I know this is a bold claim for such a little thing as sitting down and enjoying your food. It is one of the practices taught in Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science) and it made sense to me right away, but it seemed like nonsense to most of my family.

Today, I found a TED talk. It’s about breathing. I know. Breathing. What in the world….?

Being aware of your breath and developing the habit of deeper exhales has huge benefits. Re-read the previous paragraph because the list is about the same! The speaker even talks about breathing before you eat to calm your parasympathetic nervous system. Serious!

This “breathing thing” is something Yogis have been doing forever. We call it pranayama–one of the eight limbs of yoga.

I shared this TED talk with my kids this morning. It explains, with scientific studies, about breath awareness and how it effects heart rate, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It was really easy to connect the dots and see the benefits of doing a few “breathing exercises”.

Upon listening to it, my 13-year-old son says, “That makes sense, Mom. Why didn’t you explain it to me that way in the first place? Now I understand why it is important to sit down and be calm and slow when you eat. NOW it makes sense!”

Hahaha… well… if I could have explained it that well, I would have! I am just grateful SOMEONE can make sense to him and my other children that listened surprisingly attentively to this TED talk.

These ideas are part of the first module of the Holding Space Practice called “Being Without Doing.” If you have read that module, but wanted to sigh and roll your eyes, maybe listening to this talk will help you out!