Have you ever been told to “take a deep breath” when something in your life has caused you to feel frustrated or overwhelmed? Chances are, you have. If you haven’t, you’ve definitely given this advice to someone else at some point or another. But why?
Stress in Life
With the ever-increasing demands and challenges in our daily lives, it’s easy to see why many of us suffer from high levels of stress. Stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, releasing hormones in the body that spark the “fight or flight” response. This response triggers the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or flee to a safer place.
To deal with the stressors in our daily lives, many of us turn to things such as alcohol, food, exercise, or television shows to distract us. Why? Well, the answer is pretty simple–we don’t seem to have the proper tools or knowledge to be able to manage stress more effectively. And because breathing happens naturally, many of us don’t give the concept of breathing much attention.
However, breathing slowly and deeply can create a relaxation response within the body. Breathing exercises bring life back into your thirsty body, mind, and soul. It cleanses you, relaxes you, and it makes you whole.
What is F.O.R. Peace Breathing?
Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing was introduced to me when I first started on my yoga journey. It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t complicated, and it didn’t require any equipment. All it needed was you and your willingness to step back and breathe.
When you stop and take a breath in a stressful situation, you stop the hormones released by the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) and start to live again. It is a simple tool that you can use every single day to prevent and release stress when it starts to bubble up.
Steps of F.O.R. Peace Breathing
Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing un-complicates what our minds often make complicated. It makes you STOP and use the tool you were born with to deal with stress in your life.
What Does “F.O.R.” in Peace Breathing Stand For?
Focus on one, long, deep breath. Inhale deeply, feeling your diaphragm and belly expand (not your chest). Exhale through your nose or mouth for the same count, or longer. Be fully conscious of this breath.
Observe your mind. Does it wander during this breath? Where does it go? Can you try again to be right here, right now?
Refocus if you need to. Bring your mind back to your breath. If your mind wanders, return to one deep breath.
The next time that you are feeling stressed, uncertain, foggy minded, and in desperate need of relaxation, Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing and take a breath. You will be thankful you did!
Today, I will Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing and enjoy the power of my breath. I encourage you to join me, friends. What can it hurt?
If you’re looking for more ways to enjoy the power of your breath, check out these resources:
Meditations for Stress Relief
5 Simple Solutions When Life Feels Like A Mess
As the creator of the Core Functional Fitness Program, I have over a decade of experience teaching and practicing functionally fit exercise. These 6 Principles are key to truly developing your functionally fit practice.
1. Three Dimensional
In order to do the things we need to in life, we have to move in a multidimensional form. In order to improve our overall health and ability to live and function, our yoga class should too. This involves moving in three planes of motion:
Sagittal, which moves front to back (lunge)
Frontal, which moves side to side (like a triangle), and
Transversus, which cuts the body in half, top to bottom (a movement like a twist or cross of the midline).
Challenge yourself as a teacher or practitioner, and move in as many ways as possible.
When we step onto the mat, we need to take into consideration that gravity is always around us and upon us. Try to play with gravity in as many different positions and movement patterns as possible. See what happens. Especially when it comes to the pelvic core and gravity, we will see the body respond differently. This can be a great way to test and build your balance.
We often think of “dynamic” as complicated or having a lot of moving parts. But dynamic can also be movement using multiple forms.
Here’s what I mean by this: When you step into a lunge, your arms always go forward and up, but what about moving your arms out to the sides or back by your hips? This way, you give yourself a dynamic range rather than always putting your body through the same performance.
Dynamic can also mean moving in and out of a pose at variable speeds and levels, depending on your ability. This type of dynamics can offer the muscles a less stressful way to release, and it gives the mind time to get to know the new body part or range of motion discovered.
It is important to understand that each individual’s needs are unique. Believing that everyone in a class should be doing something exactly the same is not only crazy but also harmful. If we consider men and women, our bodies are drastically dissimilar. Testosterone and estrogen act different on muscles and the build of a person’s body. Bone size, shape, and spacing, as well as tendons, muscles and ligaments, all are very different from men to women.
This seems like a simple concept considering the average person takes a breath anywhere from 21,000-24,000 times a day. The reality is that most people are shallow breathers and, on top of that, hold their breath. If you have the desire to improve your physical body and get healthy, it really needs to start with your breath.
Weak breath flow has a slew of negative consequences, including poor digestion, asthma, anxiety, depression, headaches, muscle cramps, and even pelvic floor dysfunction. So before you step onto a yoga mat, into a physical therapy clinic or a Zumba class, get educated and learn how to breathe; your body will thank you. There are also several breathing meditations that can teach you to tune into your breath and help you grow your breathing practice.
6. Acknowledging the Mind and Spirit
We are not just a body bouncing around from point A to point B. One of the reasons I love yoga is that yoga understands that this physical body is the most superficial form of the self. There is so much more to understand than just what you see physically.
Usually, when you have a physical symptom or issue, that “issue” has been going on for quite some time. The physical body is the soul’s last attempt to get us to listen. When I exercise or step onto my mat, it is just as much a spiritual experience as prayer or meditation, if not more. Because now there is an honoring of the body involved that I have to act on and respect … something that I can very well translate into my everyday life.
If you are interested in growing your core and practicing these principles of Functionally Fit Exercise, practice along with my Core Functional Fitness Course.
Core Functional Fitness – Functional Foundation
- 14 modules of step-by-step instruction as lecture, application, and exercises to be functionally fit
- Certificate of completion and the opportunity to continue toward teacher certification with Hope Zvara
- BONUS 60-page PDF foundational manual for your ongoing reference and application
- BONUS recordings of CoreXpert Q&A sessions with Hope Zvara
- My training comes with a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee!