MULTI-TASKING FOR YOUR HEALTH
In a world focused on wellness and mindfulness, multi-tasking has received a bad rap. Arguably so, given that it’s difficult to focus and truly experience the present moment when we’re doing more than one thing at a time. However, there are some asthma friendly activities that I’ve found check off multiple boxes in the wellness category thereby making the case that not all multi-tasking is bad for our health.
Yoga, tai-chi and pilates are all less aerobically intense forms of strength training that improve physical flexibility, mobility of joints and balance, and at the same time also help to reduce perceived stress and
clear your mind. Physical and mental benefits, multi-tasking at its best! I’m convinced that it is the focus on the breath that allows this multi-tasking to be beneficial. There are other low impact exercises that achieve similar physical results, however the conscious, deep breathing in the aforementioned practices allows us to focus our attention on the task at hand and at least temporarily quiet the chatter in our minds.
As a yoga teacher, I see firsthand students who benefit from multi-tasking when they breathe deeply while settling into a challenging pose and conversely students who suffer because they’re not tuned into their breath. There are physical cues, especially in the face, that indicate whether or not a student’s practice is working in their favor. I often cue my class to relax their jaws and un-furrow their brows to help them breathe mindfully. If we’re breathing deeply, it is nearly impossible to tighten the muscles in our face and that breath prompts a sense of relaxation.
While the physical aspects of these exercises are certainly beneficial, I’m confident that the real benefit is beating that stress trigger monster. For those of us with asthma, learning to manage our stress response is especially important. My yoga practice is a key component for living well with asthma, it is an opportunity to consciously breathe, to improve my physical strength and to calm my mind. A multi-tasking approach that actually works in my favor!