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How To Transform Your Life, Just By Breathing

Culture

Everything you need to know about breathwork

You’re probably pretty used to taking a deep breath whenever you’re feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, so it should make intuitive sense that there's an entire practice behind using the breath to calm our minds and ease anxiety, amongst a whole slew of other benefits.

I first learned about the magic our breath holds at a wellness retreat earlier this year and instantly became enamored with its therapeutic results. Wanting to learn more, I reached out Siri Rishi Kaur—yogini, meditation facilitator, and KRI Kundalini teacher, who has 26 years of experience in breathing exercises and awareness of the breath under her belt (erm, perfectly flowy jumpsuit)—to show me the ropes.

Despite what you may think, breathwork is a lot more than just taking a few deep breathes to calm your nerves—much more. “The quality of breath directly effects the quality of our life, our health, our emotions, our mind, and our ability to feel connected,” says Rishi. “When we practice breathing exercises, we are relaxing the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing built-up toxins in our lungs, stimulating endorphins, stimulating our pituitary gland which will activate our intuition, cleaning our blood, strengthening our electromagnetic field, expanding our lung capacity, and balancing our brain hemispheres. The benefits are truly endless.”

Breathing exercises, referred to as Pranayam in the yogic tradition (meaning the science of breath, with “prana” standing for our life force or highest quality of energy), dates back to the beginning of civilization. “The oral teachings of yoga were codified and written several thousand years ago by Patanjali. The breath is the foundation of our life and of every yogic practice. No matter what style you’re teaching or practicing, it all begins and ends with the breath,” says Rishi.

According to Rishi, you can easily incorporate breathwork into your day by creating a simple routine of sitting and practicing long, deep breaths first thing in the morning or before going to bed to center your energy. Better yet, you can bring it right to your work or school day. In fact, as Rishi explains, some breathwork exercises are simple enough to do at our desks—or anywhere. “You can work on it by applying your awareness to your breath anywhere and anytime. It can be as simple as taking 10 long deep breathes, three times a day.”

“One thing we can all do is set aside small periods throughout the day where we practice a breathing technique for one to three minutes and observe how much more aware we are and how much easier it is to practice being mindful. The more mindful we are, the more compassionate we will be as a society.” If you’re someone that barely gets up from your desk, think of it as the perfect way to clear your mind in the middle of a hectic day.

Of course, you can aim for a deeper, more intensive practice, such as sitting for an hour and taking only one breath per minute. According to Rishi, there are hundreds of breathing exercises just in Kundalini yoga alone that work to do everything, from cleansing the breath and balancing the glandular nervous system to assisting in meditation.

Breathwork helps us become more present and aware, which, as Rishi explains, allows us to use our “neutral brain,” which makes us less likely to react to stressful scenarios. “Breathing exercises reduce anxiety and fear, which stems from the fight-or-flight part of our brain,” she says.

Why should we try it? “Because it’s the coolest thing on the planet to be centered, mentally stable, mentally flexible, sharp, open-hearted, in touch with our emotions in a balanced way, calm, and aware—in other words, mindful. Breathing exercises can give us an awareness that changes our whole vibrational field, and it’s easy, accessible, and free. It’s your breath!” Well, we can’t argue that.

Another reason to practice breathwork? We’re probably already breathing incorrectly. “Most people breathe short and shallow breaths, which means that our digestive system is not being stimulated correctly,” says Rishi. “If the digestive system, eliminatory system, liver, kidneys, and adrenal glands are not being stimulated and balanced, then we are more likely holding onto our ‘shit’ in more ways than one. I always like to let people know, if you breathe deep, you will be able to literally let go of the physical and mental ‘shit’ you’re holding onto in life. So, that includes physical toxins, old stories, and old patterns that are no longer serving you.”

Above, watch as Rishi takes us through five different breathing exercises to help do everything, from focusing harder to dispelling our “imaginary disabilities.” Whether you make them a part of your at-home morning or before-bed routines or use them as a midday quick fix in the office bathroom (hey, no judgment), treat the above as your intro to the healing world of breathwork. “The most important thing to remember is that your breath is the only element that your mind will obey. If you learn how to control your breath, you will be able to control your mind and your emotions. You’ll be able to stay in your venter in the midst of chaos,” says Rishi. Sounds good to us.

You can find Siri Rishi at RaMa Intitute and Five Pillars Yoga in NYC and Mandala Yoga Center in East Hampton, New York, or check out her free lifelabsrk videos on her website.

Credits:
Camera: Dani Okon and Grace Kenney
Sound: Drew Joy
Editor: Dylan Pailes-Friedman
Producer: Maura Gaughan
Clothes by Dana Foley NYC 
Stylist: Ximena Balmori

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

"In my head I thought, This is how it ends"

Kit Harington almost lost a lot more than the Iron Throne while filming the final season of Game of Thrones. According to an interview with NowThis News, the actor almost lost one of his balls while riding a mechanical dragon.

Harington revealed that the incident took place when he was filming the scene where his character, Jon Snow, takes a ride on Rhaegal for the first time in the Season 8 premiere. Since dragons aren't real (sorry), Harington was filming the scene, where Jon almost falls off the dragon and then swings around to pick himself back up, on a mechanical contraption.

"My right ball got trapped, and I didn't have time to say, 'Stop,'" Harington said in an interview. "And I was being swung around. In my head I thought, This is how it ends. On this buck, swinging me around by my testicles, literally." We see shots of the fake dragon he's riding in front of a green screen, and it does look pretty terrifying.

Luckily, his testicles remained intact through the near-disastrous event, and he's survived with quite the story to tell to unsuspecting journalists.

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for goop

"I had to create a harder shell about being a woman"

In a panel discussion during Gwyneth Paltrow's In Goop Health summit, actress Jessica Alba revealed that she "stopped eating" to avoid unwanted attention from men when she was first starting her career in Hollywood.

According to People, Alba said that she "had a curvy figure as a young girl" and, as such, was made to feel as though her body was the reason that men may be inappropriate toward her. "I was meant to feel ashamed if I tempted men," Alba said during the panel discussion. "Then I stopped eating a lot when I became an actress. I made myself look more like a boy so I wouldn't get as much attention. I went through a big tomboy phase."

She continued, "In Hollywood, you're really preyed upon. They see a young girl, and they just want to touch you inappropriately or talk to you inappropriately or think that they're allowed to be aggressive with you in a way."

Alba also noted that she was raised in a conservative household. "My mom would say, 'You have a body, and it's very womanly, and people don't understand that you're 12,'" she said. "I wasn't allowed to have my nalgas out, which is butt cheeks [in Spanish], but I was born with a giant booty, and they come out of everything. So, I didn't get to wear normal things that all my friends wore."

She said that these reactions to her body really affected her attitude. "I created this pretty insane 'don't fuck with me' [attitude]," she said. "I had to create a harder shell about being a woman."

According to her, her relationship to her body only changed when her first child, Honor, was born in 2008. "[After she was born,] I was like, Oh this is what these boobies are meant to do! Feed a kid!" she said. "And that was the dopest shit I'd ever done. So, I came into my body as a woman finally and I stopped being ashamed of myself."

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Photo courtesy of Teva

Because of course

Teva, the most obvious lesbian footwear brand since Birkenstock, really knows its customer base. In time for Pride, the brand has teamed up with Tegan and Sara for a gay shoe to end all gay shoes. In other words, your Pride footwear is on lock.

The shoe isn't just your average Teva sandal. Tegan and Sara's design, the Teva Flatform Universal Pride sandal, is a 2.5-inch platform shoe with a rainbow sole. Tegan and Sara noted in a press release that they have been Teva wearers for pretty much their whole lives. "We got our first pair of Teva sandals when we were 16," they said. "This rainbow Flatform collab is like full circle LGBTQ+ Pride validation."

What's better, with each sandal sale, Teva will donate $15 to the Tegan and Sara Foundation, up to $30,000. The funds donated will go toward scholarships which will give young members of the LGBTQ+ community the chance to go to summer camps which will "help develop self-confidence and leadership abilities in a safe and nurturing environment." Tegan and Sara added, "Teva's generous support for our foundation will allow us to help even more LGBTQ+ youth."

Available today at Teva's and Nordstrom's websites, the sandal retails for $80.

Photo courtesy of Teva

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Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

"Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design"

Prada Group has announced that Prada, as well as all of its brands, will now be fur-free. According to a press release from the Humane Society, Prada, Miu Miu, Church's, and Car Shoe will ban the use of fur beginning with the Spring/Summer 2020 collection (aka the Fashion Week coming up next). The list of fashion designers banning fur only continues to grow, with 3.1 Phillip Lim, Coach, Armani, Versace, Gucci, and more having stopped using the material in seasons past.

"The Prada Group is committed to innovation and social responsibility, and our fur-free policy—reached following a positive dialogue with the Fur Free Alliance, in particular with LAV and the Humane Society of the United States—is an extension of that engagement," Miuccia Prada told the Human Society. "Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design while meeting the demand for ethical products."

Following London Fashion Week designers forgoing the use of fur in September and the first-ever Vegan Fashion Week taking place in February, it's easy to imagine an entirely fur-free fashion future. It's especially easy, I presume, for the brands to consider a fur-free future, given that entire cities and states are taking a stance. New York is following in the footsteps of Los Angeles banning fur, with a bill proposed this March that would ban sales across New York State.

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Photo by Johnny Dufort

"Club leisure" is the new athleisure

Alexander Wang is recognizing clubbing as the workout that it truly is with his latest Adidas collaboration. In this fifth installment, he "changes gears," per a press release from the brand, taking the iconic sports brand to the dance floor.

For the new campaign, the collection comes to life in iconic choreographer Tanisha Scott's dance studio and stars dancers Noemi Janumala, Dakota Moore, Avi McClish, and Olivia Burgess. The dancers show just how far these clothes can go when you want to bust a move or stretch, but TBH, I'll leave these poses to the pros and just use my clothes for flexing on the 'gram.

The collection—which features six apparel items, three shoes, and six accessories—features, per a press release, "Wang's knack for pre-styling." Standouts from the mostly black-and-white items include a silver sneaker that was *made* for moonwalking, an airy windbreaker that has just the right dash of bright blue with the scattered Adidas trefoil design, and a towel hoodie that you won't feel bad sweating in.

Ahead of the May 25 collection drop online and in stores, peep the gorgeous campaign images below.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Joggers, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Towel Hoodie, $350, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Sock Leggings, $60, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Adilette Slides, $90, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Futureshell Shoes in Platinum Metallic, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Core White, $280, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Shorts in Core White, $120, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Bum Bag, $50, available staring May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Duffle Bag, $70, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

NYLON uses affiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase something through those links, but every product chosen is selected independently.


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