Breathing is one of the most under-noticed, under-rated body functions. Yet there is a lot of power in controlling it. “Take a deep breath.” “Breathe deeply.” We all know these phrases because at some point in our lives, generally a time of stress or recovery, someone has said them to us.

Gather your strength. Gain control. Prepare yourself. Relax, even if only for a moment. These are the benefits of a few moments of deep breathing, by-products of taking a few moments on the emotional sideline.

If a major drug company marketed a pill that accomplished all these goals (with guaranteed no side effects to boot), it would be a blockbuster and American health care costs would jump in unison.

We all have attended conferences or classes where after a long session we are urged to take a stretch break, to move, to get our blood flowing, to restore our energy levels, to refresh ourselves.

Stretching and breathing are two core elements of Yoga, “a philosophy with roots in Hindu texts, though for many people who practice yoga in the West today, it’s a form of exercise…incorporat(ing) stretches, balances and twists to increase strength and flexibility, while focusing on steady breathing to calm the mind.” (Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2008, Section 1, Page 1.)

When the Wall Street Journal (even the “lite” Murdoch version) puts yoga on the front page of America’s premier business newspaper, you know it is going mainstream, or at least the benefits of stretching and deep breathing are being widely noticed.

I’ve taken only a few yoga classes, but I’ve always been a believer in stretching, exercise, and deep breathing as effective methods of mood management, stress release, relaxing the body and calming the mind.

I’ve studied business and related fields intensely all my adult life. I strive to be a continuous learner, to always be at the top of my game, hire the best, train the best, motivate the best, and to make the best decisions, always executing smartly and crisply.

Having done that hard work, one of the best things I can do to make sure it is not all for naught, that all that effort is used effectively, is one of the simplest: Pause before making a major decision, stop before uttering emotional words, take a deep breath, breathe deeply. Simple, yes? but how often do we do it?

Closing quote:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” — Emma Lazarus

This is a classic from the NSC Blog archive, originally posted July 29, 2008.