In recent years, Western science has been led with “mathematical” precision on the path that Yoga and other Eastern philosophies have described for centuries for a better quality of life and self-awareness.

“Every thought counts. Your thoughts change your body”

The scientific proof: Most people know about the psychological response of the nervous system with the “fight or flight” defense mechanism when we are in situations of fear or threat. Whether the threat is physical or psychological, the body prepares itself muscularly to fight or run away. In the same way that primitive man reacted to the sight of a hungry oversized tiger, so does modern man, e.g. to the shouts and threats of his exasperated boss:

  • The digestive system is deactivated. The assimilation of nutrients requires energy which is currently directed towards fight or flight. The result is often disorders in the excretory system.
  • The muscular system contracts strongly, preparing the body for battle, resulting in pain and permanent tension in places such as the lower back and neck. The pupils of the eyes dilate in order to collect more information from the surrounding space.
  • The heart rate increases in order to send more blood to the central points of movement in preparation for flight. Blood pressure rises and the face turns red.
  • The “fight or flight” muscle groups take priority, there is a significant reduction in blood flow to areas that are not absolutely necessary, such as the skin, kidneys, and reproductive organs. The result is that individual body systems are under-functioning.
  • During the “fight or flight” state, our body’s stored proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are released into the bloodstream to provide energy for the movement of large muscle groups. If these elements are not consumed with movement, they remain in the vascular circulation, accumulate in the walls of the vessels and increase the chances of heart disease.
  • When the fight/flight state is over, the body tries to remove amino acids, glucose and fats from the circulation by storing them in fat stores, wasting large amounts of energy for this transport. As a result we feel exhausted and store fat.

Calm steady breathing helps us reverse the fight/flight state when it is not really physical in nature. When we don’t need to run or fight but need to calm down, think, talk let’s start by breathing correctly and consciously.

The exercise: Sit in a comfortable position, keep your spine tall and long, your pelvis stable and well-grounded to the ground. Breathe slowly and steadily. Monitor the rhythm and sound of your breathing. Bring the breath down into the belly, working with the diaphragm, then feel the inhale filling from the belly to the chest and the exhalation emptying from the chest to the belly. Continue with full breaths for about five minutes. Empty your mind of thoughts and fill your body with energy. Read the following saying from the Upanishads and repeat for as long as you need.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
your thoughts become your words
your words become your actions,
your actions become your habits,
your habits become your values
your values become your destiny.”