Adults planning for their next 50 years typically think in terms of financial investments. Author and yoga instructor Max Strom preaches a different kind of investment — in one's health and longevity. His plan calls for learning to breathe mindfully, following up with balance and then integrating the two for at least 10 minutes a day.
Strom's upcoming workshop, "Your Next 50 Years," acknowledges that both breath and balance are faculties that humans of all ages take for granted.
"It's involuntary until you make it voluntary," he says. "You can choose to take control of your breath."
Because respiration naturally constricts when the body is under stress, the effects of better breathing can be felt almost immediately, says Strom. Effective breathing improves all aspects of health, from the heart to the immune system, even alleviating pain and promoting a good night's sleep, says Strom, adding that Americans' most common health complaint is poor sleep, with 80 million taking prescription sleep aids.
"(Breathing) can really help lift people out of depression and anxiety," he says, explaining that upward of 40 million Americans are medicated for mood disorders.
Even longtime practitioners of yoga, which harnesses the power of breath, are surprised by their progress after working with Strom. The alternative-health field focuses far more on teaching meditation, he says, than on breathing.
"Breath is not being taught nearly enough and well enough in the yoga community," he says. "It's really our weak link."
More adults believe their weakness is balance, with statistics supporting the notion. The leading cause of death for people over age 65 is injuries or complications from falling, usually in their own homes, says Strom.