2021 has been a year with many challenges. For those of us that are fortunate to have our health, our livelihood, family and friends, we have plenty to be grateful for. With all the different challenges any of us may have faced, I believe it served everyone well to find a way to go along with life, do our best and find some peace and contentment at any given time.
It is of more importance than ever to stay healthy and well, physically, mentally, emotionally. I’d like to share some resources that I have found to be helpful in implementing ways to be well.
All of us can benefit from a mindfulness/meditation practice. There’s many options available and the key is being consistent, even a few minutes a day makes a difference. For those that could use a bit of movement to help relieve stress and tension I highly recommend qi gong practice, which brings together gentle movement with breathing and mindfulness. Much like yoga, this type of practice is a form of self discipline for me, it’s not my favourite thing to do, but the difference it makes to my well being makes it necessary. Try any program here that catches your interest, I have tried a few myself and find it highly beneficial to well being(qi gong for better breathing is really good):
I read the popular book Breath this fall and it solidified what I understood of the benefits of nose breathing. I also read The Oxygen Advantage, which has valuable information on how to apply better breathing techniques. I had trained myself to do mostly nose breathing during exercise for a number of years and encourage it for lower intensity efforts at my cycling classes. Japanese master Tak told me to use a piece of surgical tape over the lips for sleep and I told him he was crazy. I tried it a few times and finally made it a habit this year- it really makes a difference. I find I recover from hard cycling workouts quicker and I notice my breathing capacity has improved during exercise. Breathing is something that needs to come naturally, so any effort to make changes ought to be gradual and fairly easy to start.
Going further with nose breathing during exercise, there’s evidence to indicate that working at a lower intensity is beneficial to having your cells become more efficient at utilizing oxygen and fuel. Here’s the deep dive:
This article gives more information on this lower intensity (zone 2):
The concept is to train yourself to breathe through your nose during exercise all the way to a fairly high intensity (heart rate)- which I will need to go over in more depth and explanation at another time. This is also demonstrated regularly at my Stages cycling classes at the Toronto Athletic Club, which are also super fun!
Cheers to health and wellness for 2022!