Whistle Your Way to Better Health
Stress related disorders such as hypertension, heart disease, high blood sugar, depression and anxiety are fast growing epidemics in modern day society. A large body of research evidence shows that certain yoga techniques offer potent benefits for their prevention as well as management.
In particular, a daily practice of pranayama, aka conscious breathing exercises, has been proven to help with high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, lung function, digestive disorders, sleep problems and more.
How does breath affect our mind and body so profoundly? The key is the autonomic nervous system which governs the body’s sympathetic (stress or fight-or-flight) and parasympathetic (rest-and-relax) responses. The Vagus nerve, which is central to the nervous system, regulates internal organ functions, such as digestion, heart rate and respiratory rate. Through breathwork, we can directly affect the Vagus nerve to counteract the fight/flight system and activate a healing physiologic relaxation response in all major systems in the body.
From a yogic perspective, pranayama aims to distribute vital life force energy to every cell in the body. Since it balances out the energy (prana / chi) flow of the body, a daily practice of pranayama is said to bring a steady mind and a disease-free body.
Below is a great beginner breathing exerise called the Whistle Breath, which I share often with my clients that has many of the aforementioned health benefits, including alleviating stress and anxiety, increasing lung strength, activating the thyroid, boosting circulation and of course, stimulating the Vagus nerve (by puckering your lips).
**Just Three Minutes Daily brings powerful healing and relaxation.
1. Pucker your mouth as if drinking through a straw. Your lips should make a round shape and be tight.
2. Let your eyes softly close and bring a relaxed awareness at your Third Eye (the space between your eyebrows).
3. Inhale through your puckered lips making a high-pitched whistle. Focus on the sound of the whistle.
4. Exhale through the nose and relax.
5. When you have completely exhaled, begin the process again.