The people of the world are experiencing a collective trauma right now as we navigate the uncertainty of our global predicament.

Pioneer researcher in psychotherapy, Bessel Van Der Kolk, has studied trauma since the 1970s. He has been instrumental in scientifically proving the link between the human psyche and body. He is an expert witness to how this link determines the overall health of an individual.

Van der Kolk has been involved in three clinical studies on the benefits of yoga for persons with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Each study shows, overwhelmingly, that yoga is more effective than any medication that has ever been studied for PTSD.

"This has strangely not resulted in psychopharm clinics being turned into yoga studios. I don’t know why," Van der Kolk says.

Yoga is often criticized and grossly misunderstood by people who are unfamiliar with the physical practice. Simply, the physical practice is the synchronization of breath with body movements. Similar breath-movement coordination in used in martial arts.

This coordination is used to calm the mind, while focusing one’s attention on being fully present and aware within their bodies.

This practice soothes the nervous system while training the brain and body to feel safe and supported in the present moment.

Feeling safe and supported in the moment is the greatest challenge for persons under chronic stress and for people who have experienced trauma.

When we do not feel safe or supported, our breathing patterns are disrupted.

Poor breathing patterns have become prevalent among most modern Americans – even those who feel safe and supported in their lives - but why?

Because modern adult life has disrupted our breathing patterns.

Modern adult life is characterized by being constantly busy, always on-the-go, spending much of our days in a seated position, looking at a computer, TV, or phone screen.

These modern routines typically mean that we are in a seated posture or position for hours on end. This is not conducive to healthy breathing.

Add the COVID-19 crisis and economic instability to modern adult concerns, and we see even more disruptive breath patterns.

While we may not all identify as a "stressful person" or a "person with PTSD," our brains and bodies would probably tell a different story – especially right now.

If our breathing is disrupted by our daily routines and concerns, then our brains and bodies function as if they are under chronic stress.

This speeds up the aging and disease process and compromises our energy levels (if you are someone who experiences lethargy or fatigue frequently, chances are there is a disruption in your breathing pattern).

Try the following quick-tip to seed some healthy breath mechanics into your daily life. This is a good start for using your breath to tell your brain and body that you are safe and supported.

1.Stand up. (If you cannot stand, then sit on the edge of your seat. Be sure that your lower spine is not rounded beneath you. Sit on your butt bones - not your low spine).

2.Imagine your spine extending through your skull, at the midway point between your ears.

3.Exhale, and feel your spine lengthen all the way through the midway point between your ears. You may feel your rib basket lift off of your low back. You may also notice that the front of your torso lengthened, creating space for your diaphragm to move properly.

4.Place your hands on your lower front ribs. As you inhale, notice that your breath actually expands your rib basket, as if you are inflating this part of your body.

5.Exhale, staying long through your spine.

6.Inhale, noticing the expansion of your rib basket.

7.This is not deep breathing. This is not forceful breathing. Do not control your breath. Simply allow your breath to be natural, but keep your spine erect and your front body lengthened as you breathe.

Your shoulders should not curve forward.

Your shoulders should not rise and fall as you breathe.

Note that this is not an exercise. This is a quick-tip for healthy breath mechanics.

If you wish to optimize your health and wellness, then healthy breath mechanics should become your new normal throughout the day.

For more thorough instruction on healthy breath mechanics, view the 10-minute Healthy Breathing video provided on this newspaper’s website.

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