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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Breathing

In Elemental. More on Medium.

Conscious breathing, cellular breathing, and other easy techniques to feel calmer

Photo: FatCamera/Getty Images

Air is vital to our survival. But when we find ourselves facing extraordinary levels of stress, as is today’s daily norm, it can be difficult to catch our breath.

Stress can feel suffocating. And eight months into this so-called new normal, individuals and communities are inevitably struggling to hold on to air. A recent poll by the American Psychological Association shows that more than a third of Americans (36%) say the pandemic is having a serious impact on their mental health. Nearly 60% say it is seriously affecting their day-to-day lives and negatively affecting their finances. …


Two integrative medicine physicians explain the benefits of breathing practices and qigong

A chest x-ray shows a patient with pulmonary fibrosis. Photo: BSIP/Getty Images

Co-authored by Ann Marie Chiasson.

When examining a patient for Covid-19, we always ask about the breath. “Is it short?” “Does your chest feel tight?” “Let’s measure your oxygen saturation.” What if a secret to recovery from the virus was in the breath as well?

At the University of Arizona Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, we have been researching which evidence-based modalities may support recovery from Covid-19. As Covid-19 research is still in the early stages, we have also examined what modalities have demonstrated improvement in lung function in lung diseases with similar pathologies.

While long-term consequences of Covid-19…


Could the way you’re aiming to hold your body be making pain worse?

Illustration: Cha Pornea

Head up, shoulders back, pain solved. That’s how it’s supposed to go. But what if everything you’ve been told about “good posture” is wrong, and in fact, is only making your pain worse?

This is the question I’ve been asking myself for months now, ever since — after almost a decade of nagging left shoulder pain that wouldn’t go away — a practitioner I found on YouTube finally healed me.

Seeking medical advice on YouTube? I know, I know. But I was at the end of my rope with my body — and my doctors. For years, every expert I…


It may feel unnatural at first, but it’s the best thing for your body

Photo: Jekaterina Nikitina/Getty Images

Breathing easily has always been a vital part of well-being. Thanks to the pandemic, however, this simple biological function has been compromised for many infected people, and remains threatened for everyone else who’s susceptible to getting Covid-19.

But what if changing the way you breathe could potentially help protect you from the very thing that threatens your ability to breathe? That’s one theory some experts are suggesting. It has to do with the simple physiology of the nose, and the chemical compound nitric oxide (NO).

Aside from filtering, warming, and humidifying the air you breathe, the nose is your first…


Illustration: Matija Medved

One Day at a Time

Daily insights on life in the face of uncertainty, by psychiatrist and habit change specialist Dr. Jud Brewer

When you’re anxious, one of the best things to do is slow down and focus on your breath. But what about when you’re so anxious or stressed that regular breathing exercises don’t seem to work?

In today’s column, I’ll teach you a simple but effective exercise that brings in more of your senses to help cut through the anxiety so you can access more calm and focus in the present moment.

In previous columns, I’ve suggested that people try taking a few mindful breaths, or grounding themselves by bringing awareness to their feet when they feel stress or anxiety. The…


Deep, controlled breathing — an easy technique you can do anytime — can vastly improve your health and well-being

Photo: d3sign / Moment / Getty Images

Take a few normal breaths. Feel your chest rise and fall? If so, you’re doing it wrong, according to breathing therapists and scientists. Make a quick fix there, and maybe introduce a few breathing exercises to your day, and you’ll be able to reduce stress, improve your focus, and even lower your blood pressure, among other health benefits.

Breathing is at the core of ancient (and currently trendy) mindfulness practices, from yoga and tai chi to meditation. However, studies suggest that breathing exercises alone, derived from those ancient yoga practices, can be good for the body and mind. Scientists don’t…

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