The exchange between my skeptical father and the meditation expert made me recall the interview I did with Dr. Andrew Weil The Connection for my film The Connection. Dr. Weil is one of the most popular MD’s in the US, having built a huge following for his integrated approach to medicine which looks for ways to help a patient’s own body trigger healing, rather than relying solely on drugs and surgery.
Dr. Weil told me that if he had to limit his medical advice to just one thing, he’d say to learn how to breathe. That’s a profound statement in the modern world whereas a doctor he has so many nutritional, surgical and pharmacological tools at his disposal.
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Here’s a section from the extended interview I did with Dr. Weil where he talks about the power of breathing:
In recent years scientists have found that yogic breathing significantly helped people with bronchial asthma, breathing slowly helped reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension and a form of yogic breathing taught to Afghanistan and Iraq veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder resulted in a reduction in symptoms, anxiety, and respiration rate.
In yet another reminder of the intricate link between our mind and body, I was stunned to come across research looking at the role of breathing on our emotions which found that four key emotional states – joy, anger, fear, and sadness – could be identified by distinct breathing patterns. The scientists took their discovery even further and were able to make people feel these emotions by simply teaching them to breathe in particular patterns.
But when it comes to the link between breathing and health, the most compelling of all the research I’ve come across this week is being done by scientists at UCLA who recently studied
They taught one group of people a 12-minute yogic practice, which involves focused breathing and chanting and instructed them to practice every day for eight weeks. A second group was asked to relax in a quiet place with their eyes closed while listening to instrumental music for 12 minutes.
Not only did the results show that doing the yogic exercises significantly lowered levels of depressive symptoms and greater improvement in mental health and cognitive functioning, but they also had slower cellular aging and important genes involved in inflammation in the body were switched off.
- Place your thumb on your right nostril and cover it
- Inhale slowly through the left nostril
- Place your middle finger on your left nostril and cover it, release the thumb
- Exhale through the right nostril
- Inhale slowly through the right nostril
- Place your thumb on the right nostril again, release the middle finger
- Exhale through the left nostril
- Repeat for a few minutes
This article was republished with permission from foodmatters.tv
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