Right now, due to the pandemic and its fallout, we’re living through one of the most chaotic times the world has experienced. And with the health of our country still in trauma, so is the long-term mental health impact of our frontline workers. Research by 25 mental health experts in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal reveals that those exposed to heightened levels of stress and trauma (which could be any of us right now) may experience “pervasive” and “profound” negative effects both physically and mentally. 

As a longtime yoga practitioner, I’ve learned some solid strategies to increase mental and emotional resilience to stress and alleviate these dangers. And breathing is one of the most powerful and accessible forms of self-care and stress management you can do. You can summon a significant positive impact on your energy, aging, brain and immune strength, sleep, happiness, relationships, intimacy, even sex—when you breathe.

Research into the respiratory process confirms that the quality of your breathing has dramatic physical effects on both your body and mind. Through slow, conscious, rhythmic respiration, you can increase your relaxation response, decrease your metabolic rate and blood-sugar levels; lower your heart rate; reduce muscle tension; increase mental alertness, confidence and emotional stability; and more. Pretty good for just breathing!

Breathing is an art. But you don’t need to be taught how to breathe. Breathing needs not to be taught, but liberated. 

Read on to learn how the power of your breath can change how you think and feel—and even transform chaos into calm.



Photo: Mark Hanauer (AGEIST Magazine)

How to Find Calm in Chaos: 7 Simple Steps

In the midst of change—times like right now—everything can feel chaotic. Nevertheless, when we are overwhelmed by chaos, it can serve a valuable purpose. While chaos can seem ominous because we’re taught to avoid it, in reality it may be refocusing our minds and positioning our psyches for creativity and growth. In fact, our lives can be the most exciting, and feel the most rewarding, when we experience chaos. How can that be? Learn more in my column in Ageist magazine.

The Power of the Breath

Do you know about the power of the breath? The breath is remarkable. It is profoundly wise. Every emotion, physical condition, resistance, disturbance or tension you have is connected to your breath. Breathing will help you build your lung capacity, create resilience and strengthen immunity, while at the same time deepening your understanding of yourself. In my book, “The Breathing Breakthrough,” I offer compelling facts, practical examples and cutting-edge science based on ancient insights, revealing how the power of your breath can change how you think and feel.

Go with the currents of your breath—and get carried away!

Breathing for Focus

The ancient yoga masters developed the practice of conscious breathing to balance the emotions, clarify mental processes and integrate them into one functioning whole. According to the yogic texts, breathing is the vehicle carrying the life force or prana throughout your body. But prana is more than breathing. Prana is life. It is vibratory power. Prana connects your body to your mind and to your consciousness and spirit. Breathing is one of the greatest secrets of yoga—if you practice it with sincerity, you will obtain emotional healing powers beyond your imagination. Yet, breathing itself is not a secret. It’s right there—if you train yourself in one area only, be awake to your breath. It’s that basic. You can build your whole life around it!

Try this 4-minute breathing technique to bring clarity and focus to your mind. 

Wellness Around the World

The holistic concept of wellness is starting to transform our lives, especially our mental well-being. Bravo to lululemon for partnering with the United Nations Foundation to launch a new program to address the mental and physical health of UN humanitarian aid workers. “Peace on Purpose” is an evidence-based program, which provides access to meditation and self-care tools for UN workers to build resilience in the face of adversity and stressful environments. Also, check out The Global Wellness Institute Yoga Therapy Initiative resource page on the GWI website and find a growing list of resources, including a new Stress Reduction Breathing Practice video taught by Gary Kraftsow, founder of the American Viniyoga Institute. And don’t forget to take my wellness audit on Bijab.com. This personal wellness quiz is designed to assess your current state of wellness in five dimensions—body, energy, mind, behavior and spirituality.

Stay well. And take care of yourself. As the Zen master Katagiri Roshi once said, “When you take care of something, it lives a long time.”

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Bija Bennett brings real-time restoration to all audiences

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