We interviewed four certified yoga instructors to show you how to get started at this tried and true practice that benefits your body and mind. The best part? Every class ends with a nap.» read more
April has been dubbed National Stress Awareness Month, thanks to those two dreaded words: Tax Season. But here's a guide to get back your balance.
A little less than 80 years ago, Austro-Hungarian endocrinologist Hans Selye first identified and recorded the effects of "noxious agents," which he later called "stress." We've come a long way since then, in terms of both the accumulation of daily stressors (hello 1040 form!) and the amount of research showing that exercise is like a silver bullet into the heart of stress. [Roll over the asterisks as you read to learn about some of the fascinating new studies that prove exercise lowers anxiety and depression.] But to truly beat stress, your mind and body have to be in sync. To help us with that, we spoke to Dr. Daniel Ellenberg, a life coach, consultant, and co-founder of Relationships That Work, and Gold's Gym Fitness Institute trainer Robert Reames to bring you the best methods to make tax season less taxing and lower your stress levels all year long. Then Belisa Vranich, Gold's Gym Fitness Institute expert, clinical psychologist and author of Get a Grip, explained how breathing—really breathing—can quickly lower anyone's stress level (just ask the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter she's currently training).
Breathing exercises help manage anxiety—and life, according to Vranich. If you are practicing breathing exercises, your heart rate goes down every time you exhale. "The rate of anxiety disorders in this country is 18%—that adds up to the entire population of Argentina," says Vranich. "One of the ways you can see these anxiety disorders is in the way people breathe. People are not getting air into their lungs‚ the most important organ in the body. They are taking shallow breaths."
She is currently working with an MMA fighter who wants to expand his lung capacity. "Whether you are doing the exercises for physical reasons or for psychological reasons, breathing gets you to a calm place where you can hear yourself think."
HERE ARE 5 STEPS TO BETTER BREATHING
Put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Breathe so that your chest stays still and your belly moves up and down.
Then gasp and feel the breath expand to your chest. Feel your ribs going up against your arms and your lungs expanding from side to side. Notice your lungs expanding in a circle around the bottom of your ribs—80% of your lungs are in your back. Now take a deep breath in two parts.
The two-part breath has a background in yoga. The first part is in your lower belly. The second part is in your chest. Feel your belly move and then your chest, filling all your lungs.
As you inhale, think Let; on the exhale think Go. Think of opening your heart, taking into consideration the thing you're most grateful for.
Get yourself to breathe that way with more awareness, and you'll have more oxygen going through your whole body.
She offers these exercises on her website, thebreathingclass.com.