The Power of Breathing

There is a tool for countering stress that we all have, one of such simplicity and purity, such minimalistic beauty that its power is often and easily overlooked. This tool doesn’t cost a thing, requires no complicated instruction, is available to everyone and can be accessed anytime and anywhere. It is, without a doubt, among the most effective antidotes to stress and a key component to wellbeing that we possess. Let’s consider, for a moment, the power of breathing.

It sounds simplistic, doesn’t it? What’s so special about something we do every day, without thinking, completely automatically? Well, think for a minute about what it feels like when you don’t breathe. We forget to do that often—during a difficult exercise or physical exertion, during moments of stress or when we experience something scary, unpleasant, or painful. It’s like our body pushes a giant pause button and everything grinds to a halt.

Not breathing properly equates to stopping or slowing down the flow of energy through our system. The body no longer receives the oxygen it needs to function properly, to eliminate toxins and mobilize the internal organs. The Chinese Daoist master Yu Wen once said “Energy being like water, stagnation leads to decay.” In other words, if we stop the flow of energy and oxygen through our body, inevitably stagnation and illness ensue.

So what’s the best way to breathe to keep things moving, you ask? Let me just encourage you not to over think this. It’s not complicated. It’s very simple, and that’s why people overlook it. I say just breathe. No fancy techniques, no right way to do it, no mistakes to make. Even the simplest mindful breathing helps get the energy flowing through your body again. If you want to explore the power of breathing further, investigate deep breathing techniques, which have been shown to help boost the immune system, reduce anxiety by recalibrating the oxygen/carbon dioxide ratio in your body, induce relaxation and reduce pain—all important elements in fighting chronic illness.

Be aware of the physical sensations when you’re, in fact, not breathing—the slight tightness in your head, the tension you’re holding in your body—recognize it, and then … make an effort to breathe, mindfully and continuously. It’s that easy and that essential. Breathing is a beautiful and pure way of bringing yourself back into the moment, to not only push the play button again, but to refocus your energy. Have you been breathing while you’ve been reading this? No? How about giving it a quick try? There, doesn’t that feel better in a simple and powerful way?”

Olivier Bros, P.T. is a physical therapist trained in Osteopathy, Homeopathy, Acupuncture and Psychology. Based in New York, he has developed a personalized approach to manual holistic technique.