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De Stress With The Breath

Author: Amy Weintraub, Founder, LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute.

Author of Yoga for Depression and Yoga Skills for Therapists.

When stress is overwhelming, even a beautiful day can feel like a burden, because we sense that the rest of the world is enjoying it, and we can’t.  I know of no better way to sense our interconnectedness, focus our thoughts and calm our minds than to begin a breathing practice.  Aside from the well-documented health benefits, we can stop a ruminative chain of thoughts or a negative mood state in its tracks with one of many simple yogic breathing exercises called pranayama.  Trauma, loss and the everyday hassles of daily life can create constriction in the physical and emotional body.  As we constrict, we begin to close off from others.  Some of us carry this sense of separation throughout our lives in the form of depression.  Yogic breathing can begin to break through that wall of separation, perhaps just a chink at first, through which we begin to feel less separate and alone.  What is authentic within us is given voice.  We can think more clearly and begin to focus our energy on what is important. When we pause to breathe, to take time away from our busy schedules to practice, we can accomplish more, not less, and our level of stress goes down.

Practice:

When we breathe consciously, we quiet the clatter of thoughts so that we can think clearly and calmly. Try this simple breath when the busy mind needs a respite.

Ocean-Sounding Victory Breath (Ujjayi)

  • This breath, jokingly referred to as Darth Vader Breath, is soothing to the central nervous system, even as it calms the mind and supports greater focus for meditation.
  • To begin, inhale through the nostrils to the count of four with a slight constriction at the back of the throat, so that the breath is audible, like a light snoring sound.
  • Exhale through the nostrils for four counts, maintaining the snoring sound.
  • The breath is slow, and deep.  Feel the breath expanding the belly, the ribcage, and then the upper chest.
  • On the exhalation, pull the abdomen in and up to empty the lungs completely.
  • Sense the breath at the back of the throat.
  • Listen to your breath.  Does it sound like a wave gently rolling across pebbles?  Imagine your favorite pebbly beach.  Does it sound like an infant’s snore?  Let it be like a lullaby to yourself—perhaps a younger you.

Guidance:

If you feel that the above stated exercise actually benefitted you, it is best that you consult a yoga specialist and discuss the pranayama techniques with him. Please note that it is best that you consult a specialist to follow the same.

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