Editor’s Note: Join Dana Santas for a four-part series to learn how you can breathe better to live better. Santas, known as the “Mobility Maker,” is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and mind-body coach in professional sports, and is the author of the book “Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief.” Here’s Part IV.
In Part I of this series, I introduced you to the concept of breathing as a superpower, capable of impacting almost every aspect of your body and mind. In Parts II and III, I shared how you can use your breathing to move better and sleep better. In this final installment, we look at breathing’s role in stress management and concentration. I also share breathing exercises to help you achieve a more focused, calm state of being.
Breathing is one of the most effective ways to manage stress because it leverages your own physiology and requires no special tools. In as little as 90 seconds, deep breathing can stimulate a physiological “relaxation response” that tones down your body’s “fight-or-flight” response by inhibiting stress hormone production, lowering blood pressure and decreasing heart rate.
In short, how you breathe matters; the quality of your breathing pattern affects your ability to mitigate stress. In fact, a dysfunctional breathing pattern can fuel your stress response, even when you are trying to use your breathing to calm down.
Read on to learn how to avoid a faulty pattern and optimize your breathing for stress relief, calm and focus, the same way elite athletes like former World Cup champion skier Lindsey Vonn do.