Yes it will keep you alive, but breathing does so much more. Having the ability to control your breath and use it to calm you can give you a bit of refuge from things like anxiety but it will also help your body lower your blood pressure and reduce your stress levels.

When asked what is the number one killer, many will say cancer or heart disease, but it’s stress. Stress is our biggest cause for premature death and illness. There are so many conditions that are brought on by stress or that are worsened by daily stress.

Breath work especially when combined with meditation, can make a world of difference in everyone’s life. The ability to lower your heart rate and bring your body back into balance can have long term lasting effects on your health.

“But I can’t go to meditation every day,” or “But it’s too hard to find an hour a day to meditate and I think I’m doing it wrong,” are common thoughts. But assure yourself, this is so simple anyone can do it every day. Take baby steps. Close your eyes when things are getting to be too much and just focus your intentions on altering your breath. Take deep breaths that expand the ribcage, hold and then release. Work on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth — deep cleansing breathes.

After you have that small thing mastered, try a mantra. Take any affirmation. As an example, we’ll choose “I am worthy of all good things.” Say this to yourself as you take in your breath, hold and release. Keep repeating it as you breathe. You can do this for as little as five minutes, but get in a habit. There’s a saying that is very true in mindfulness, “Don’t have five minutes to do it? Great, do ten.” And it means that if your life is so overwhelming that you can’t find five minutes for self care, you need at least ten minutes.

Calm your breath, find your affirmation, and see how you feel after a week or two of this great calming technique. While longer meditations, guided imagery, and professional breath work guidance is wonderful, taking a first step on your own may be just what you need.

Namaste, Rome.

Tina Samuels, a native of Rome, is a local yoga instructor and shiatsu bodywork therapist. Readers can contact her at www.romebodyworkandwellness.com.