The Stress-Breath Connection

29 Aug 2011

by Michael Fischman

The breath can be a powerful tool for regulating the mind and eliminating stress and impurities. Inhalation brings vital energy to the body, and exhalation relieves stress and eliminates toxins. The breath is also related to the vital life force or bio-energy. In the East, this vital force is known as "prana" or "chi." A lack of this energy results in lethargy, irritability, low enthusiasm, doubt and even depression. Conversely, more of this energy results in an overall improvement in productivity, health and interest in life.

Several years ago, while I was in Australia, a woman named Betty showed up at one of my courses. She had lost her husband a dozen years earlier and had never recovered emotionally. She hadn't left her home for 18 months! The psychiatrist who recommended her to me had diagnosed her as agoraphobic, having an abnormal fear of crowds and public places. Medication hadn't worked, and she was willing to try anything. When I first saw her, I thought she might be a homeless woman, hunched over in the back of the room with a forlorn face. Her personal hygiene was appalling, and she smelled so bad that no one came near her. But she came back each of the course's four days, and she followed all the instructions. After her first experience with Sudarshan Kriya, the key breathing technique, she already seemed more natural and relaxed. She waved goodbye to me when she left the session. No one recognized her when she returned to the class the next day. She had showered, brushed her hair and changed her clothes for the first time in weeks. She still didn't speak to people, but she now had a constant smile on her face. By the end of the course, she was interacting briefly but regularly with other people in the class. Read more