Remember your child as a baby? When they accidentally hit their head on the side of the crib or get startled awake by a loud noise? Seconds tick by slowly as you wait for the sound of that gulp for air—usually followed by a piercing cry.
Breathing: it’s probably the most hard-wired, involuntary function we do as human beings. Every creature, great or small, breathes. Breathing gives us life, and we don’t even have to think about doing it—you inhale and exhale as reflexively as your heart beats in your chest.
But despite the fact that breath keeps us alive, we tend to take it for granted.
The Harvard Business Review and the Yale News both recently conducted studies revealing the effectiveness of SKY Breath Meditation, a breathing modality that engages the parasympathetic nervous system—the part of your brain that controls rational thinking, gives you a sense of calm and provides balance in stressful situations. Participants in both studies reported a better sense of well-being and mental health after just two days of practicing the methods.
As someone who has been trained in SKY Breath Meditation for 10 years, I can attest that breath does so much more than supply your body with oxygen. The way you breathe can have a big influence on how you feel and experience the world.
If you’re been stressed, depressed, or overwhelmed—by current events, the holiday season, or your kid’s insistence on listening to “Baby Shark” on repeat—you’re not alone.
Here are some tips to help you literally catch a breather (share them with your child too!):
Deeper inhales and longer exhales. What happens when your child cries? Their breaths turn to hiccups. The same thing happens when we feel stressed or sad. When you start breathing rapidly, consciously focus on taking deep inhales and long exhales. Count to 4 for inhales, 8 for exhales (or as close as you can comfortably get). The fog in your brain will clear up in seconds.
Do some quick, light stretching. Pressured by deadlines at work and the mounting pile of laundry at home? Take 5 minutes for a quick stretch break. Full-body activities like a yoga sun salutation get your blood flowing with good oxygen and help relieve stress.
Carve out time for meditation. Ten minutes is ample time for you to feel the positive effects of your breathing/meditation practice. Don’t have 10 minutes? Take 2 minutes, if that’s what you have. Find a quiet spot to sit in and breathe deeply. Check out our work with America Meditates by Art of Living.
Learning to control your breath can help rid your body of stress and flood you with positive energy. Not only will you feel more in control of yourself, but you’re also providing an excellent model for your children about the importance of self-care.
Supportive breathing is just one technique for becoming the parent you want to be. If you’re interested in true parenting transformation check out the 90 Day Parenting Reset Program (coming soon).
P.S. My episode with ThePedsTalk Podcast hosted by Mona Amin, is live! We had a great conversation, so give it a listen and share with a parent who needs to hear it!