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88 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k j a n u a r y/ fe b r u a r y 2 0 24 Savvy Self-Care T he benefits of adaptogens are nothing short of a wonder drug: diminishing stress, enhancing hormonal and immunological efficiency, reducing inf lammation, and even preventing age-related diseases. One of the most profound and intriguing features of adaptogens is their customized responsiveness and individual healing prowess. Adaptogens seem to have an intelligence of their own, inspiring our physiology to upgrade and more gracefully respond to the inevitable stressors and changes around us. We are amazed at the intelligence transmitted through a plant, f lower, herb, vegetable, mushroom, spice, or even a conscious breath that can provide the perfect nudge toward physiological and psychological equilibrium. Adaptogens remind us that food is medicine, or poison, depending on our choices, and that small behavioral shifts, like a few mindful physiological sighs, can be the perfect assist to feeling more aligned and less stressed. THE METHOD A new favorite adaptogenic practice in the Reed household is the "physiological sigh," a breathing practice to help soften the blows of small and large doses of everyday stressors. This is a modern spin on ancient pranayama practices. Breathe in deeply through your nose. When you think you've reached the top of your in-breath, pull in a short, staccato- like breath. Without holding your breath, purse your lips and slowly exhale all the breath from your lungs with an even and steady f low. Repeat at least three times to feel yourself return to balance. Heath and Nicole Reed are co-founders of Living Metta (living "loving kindness"), a continuing education company committed to sharing feel-good therapies to give and receive. They also host CE healing retreats in Thailand. Discover more at The Physiological Sigh: Our Built-In Adaptogen By Heath and Nicole Reed Read more about adaptogens at ts-adaptogens WATCH VIDEO "THE PHYSIOLOGICAL SIGH"

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