Breathing Exercises Lead to a Better You

Breathing ExerciseLearning how to manage stress, anxiety and all of the worries of life is essential to maintaining well-being.  Using breathing exercises is essential to maintaining your health effectively and without potentially toxic medications. Since everyone has stress from their job, their personal commitments and from day to day stressors, finding a way to manage and diffuse it is essential to maintain optimal health.  This article WILL help you get back to the “healthy place” that may all too often seem like a distant memory.

Balancing your Health with Yoga



Most of us wake up, brew coffee, saunter to our car, drink coffee, drink more coffee, eat something cheap and fast for lunch, drink more coffee, finish work, drive home, wait in traffic, become frustrated, finally get home, eat something cheap and fast for dinner, watch television, and go to bed.  Every.Single.Day.  We are putting our bodies and minds under constant stress by refusing to deviate away from our humdrum, static lifestyles.  We begin to throw off our natural equilibrium, which puts our health and wellness at stake.  As time goes on, illnesses and chemical imbalances start to set in, and instead of finding the root cause of why our bodies are breaking down, we settle for pain killers and mood stabilizers to make us “feel better.”   Sound familiar??  How about we recognize that we are killing ourselves and try to take some control over our health and well-being?

Yoga therapy is a form of integrative medicine that combines holistic and modern approaches to healing, by first discovering the source of the problem.  Reestablishing the balance and communication between mind, body, and spirit is a foundation in yoga therapy.

Getting to the Root of Yoga Therapy

The word Yoga is a derivative of the Sanskrit word yug, which means to “to bind closely,” “join,” “concentrate,” and “to bring under yoke.”   This unity is based off of one’s own web of homeostasis, binding mind, body, and soul, and the “individual self, uniting with Cosmic Consciousness or the Universal Spirit” (MedIndia).

A crossed legged yoga posture carved by the Indus civilization

A crossed legged yoga posture carved by the Indus civilization

Scholars and archaeologists have been striving for over a century to pinpoint the detailed origin of yoga.  Soapstone seals with yogi-like depictions were unearthed in the 1920s in the ruins of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, where the largest society in early antiquity, the Indus civilization, flourished.  These carvings are dated back to 3000 B.C.E., hence the revolutionary discovery that Yoga originated in India over 5,000 years ago.  By way of the Vedas, Hindus brought yoga to modern times, where it is now being practiced by over 20 million Americans.


The Koshas: The intertwining layers that make up our physical, mental, and spiritual self

Beginning with the outermost layer, we find our way to the Atman, or true self, by moving through and beyond each kosha.

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Annamaya kosha- Physical: This is the “food” sheath.  This layer is how we could describe the visible, or physical, appearance of our entity. It is made up of our integumentary, skeletal, muscular system, and other organs that provide our corporeal makeup.  We must nurture this outmost layer of ourselves and explore it during meditation and train ourselves to go move inward toward our True Self.

 Pranamaya kosha- Energy: This is the “breath” sheath.   The elusive ambiances relating to breath is the driving force that allows our body to operate. By way of energy channels (nadis) in our body, this kosha allows our inner self to function in the physical world, or the external world, giving our still consciousness the appearance of a moving human body.  It is important to train and regulate the Pranamaya kosha in order for this level to flow efficiently.

 Manamaya kosha- Mental:  The “lower mind.” Within this level, we process our dynamic emotions and feelings.  It directs the thoughts that are created by our physical senses. It is not in control processing deeper awareness, and thus it can create illusions and qualms.  It receives instruction from deeper levels, and its ability to function is dulled if it is clouded by illusions from the Mental kosha.

 Vijnanamaya kosha-Wisdom: The “higher mind.”  This level embraces higher levels of consciousness.   This kosha does not just think, it is ego consciousness.  It has a sense of self, giving it the power of decision, judgement, and knowledge.  It maintains positive strength when it is not confused with memories and dulled by the illusions from the Mental layer.

 Anandamaya kosha – Bliss: It is the innermost kosha that surrounds the Atman or the self, which is the everlasting, conscious core.  It is outside of the mind, where we are separated from stimuli that cause a blissful reaction.  It is a being of love, joy, and peace on its own.

Now that we understand how complex the dimensions of our existence is under yogic ideals and philosophies, it changes how we approach treatment.  Without knowing the source of the illness or problem, we are limiting ourselves to partial healing.  Regain homeostasis and well-being. Find out more about Integrative approaches to healing by Dr. Jorge Bordenave at


Bharati, Swami J. “Koshas or Sheaths of Yoga Vedanta.” N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Aug. 2013. <>.

Feuerstein, Georg. “A Short History of Yoga.” Swamijcom., n.d. Web. 04 Aug. 2013. <>.

Kessler, Jody. “The 5 Koshas.” Singing Heart Yoga. N.p., 31 May 2011. Web. 04 Aug. 2013. <>.

“Origin of Yoga.” MedIndia. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Aug. 2013. <>.

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Incorporating Breathing Exercises with Your Integrative Medicine Treatment

Breathing ExerciseAs Integrative Medicine incorporates a full body approach to well-being, exercise is another effective and necessary piece of the complete “prescription.” Learning how to manage stress, anxiety and all of the worries of life is essential to maintaining well-being. Take some time after reading this article to digest and fully understand why and how to apply breath exercises to your Integrative Medicine treatment.

Using breathing exercises is essential to maintaining your health effectively and without potentially toxic medications. Since everyone has stress from their job, their personal commitments and from day to day stressors, finding a way to manage and diffuse it is essential to maintain optimal health. If left unchecked, stress over time can have negative effects. Experiencing symptoms of anxiety, which include an elevated pulse rate, tightened muscles, and increased stress hormones levels, among others, keeps your body’s immune system from functioning optimally. Over time, your body’s reactions to daily stressors from life, leads to diminished levels of energy and potentially an emotionally burnout and total exhaustion. Therefore, it is essential to know how to moderate your daily stress levels.

The first exercise to do is to quiet your body and mind. People who have recurring anxiety and nervous tension are filled with negative thoughts and “self-talk.” These people are always thinking, talking and fantasizing about their problems – this “mental movie” of one’s problems and worries is emotionally and physically draining. This constant stress and the racing mind must first be quieted.

Quieting the mind is quite an easy process and has many immediate and long-term beneficial effects. Pick anything of personal intrinsic value – it can be a piece of jewelry, a picture, a plant, etc. The next step is to inhale and exhale slowly for two minutes while looking at your chosen focusing piece. If you feel any anxiety or feelings of nervousness, re-focus on the object. This might not work the first time, the second time or even the third time. If you keep doing this, eventually your mind will become relaxed and not let competing and racing thoughts cloud your psyche.

The next exercise is to meditate. Meditation helps you feel organized and centered. Many people who experience anxiety, no matter the level, often feel disorganized and ungrounded. Meditating, preferably before starting your day, or anytime, enables you to focus your energy and be more efficient in completing work and personal obligations. Meditation begins by sitting or lying in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply and rhythmically. Block out all thoughts and sensations except for your breathing.  Sometimes there is an audio coach, a live coach or your inner conscious guiding you to focus on your breathing and your breathing only. Repeat until you feel very relaxed.

Along with the main type of meditation, there are variations of meditating to center one-self. The next method of relaxing is to release muscle tension. This can be accomplished by lying on your back, letting your arms rest naturally. Similar to meditating, develop and maintain a steady breathing cadence. Clench your fists, tighter and tighter, for 15 seconds. During this process, let the rest of your body relax and visualize your fists becoming tighter and tighter. After the 15 seconds, let go and let your body relax for 30 seconds. Do this same exercise with other tense parts of your body for 15 seconds on and 30 seconds off. Doing this, along with visualizing your relaxation will help you let go of tension naturally and effectively.

Performing these exercises will enable you to manage your stress and anxiety effectively, efficiently and without traditional prescription medication. Over time, your body will be more accustom to manage stress and anxiety better and you will be able to diffuse it better in the future.

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