How Yogic Breathing Can Teach You To Center Yourself When You’re Stressed
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Stress is a response your body creates when you’ve overwhelmed your nervous system. The body becomes flooded with chemicals that prepare you to either fight or run away. These stress responses are natural and are there to save your life in a dangerous situation. However, when stress occurs for the small things in life, it wears your body down and you can suffer consequences like high blood pressure.
While you can’t always avoid stress, there are ways to center yourself during an anxious-ridden situation. By tapping into your relaxation response system, you can allow a state of relaxation to come over you. Essentially, you put on the brakes of stress by bringing the body and mind back to center. This is something that yoga promotes, especially with the breathing aspects of it. Here are some of the benefits you’ll get when you activate your relaxation response through breathing;
· You slow your heart rate down.
· Your breath becomes slower and deeper.
· Your blood pressure will be reduced.
· Your muscles begin to relax.
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· The blood flow to the brain heightens.
Not only will you reduce stress immediately but you’ll also have the added benefits of increasing your focus, your energy levels go up, you fight off illness, relieve aches, you have an easier time problem-solving, and you boost your productivity.
Breathing Throughout Your Day
When you breathe deeply throughout the day, you ease the body from any stress that could potentially build up. If stress starts to come on for any reason, open your chest and take a deep breath in. Hold it for a few seconds and slowly breathe it out. Breathing in deeply will reduce anxiety because you’re activating your body’s relaxation response.
Engaging the Abdominal Muscles Reduces Muscle Strain
When you breathe deeply, you engage the stomach muscles and the diaphragm as opposed to shallow breathing which means breathing into the upper chest and neck. Breathing in this way conditions the respiratory muscles to work more efficiently which improves the amount of oxygen exchange.
This means your lungs get more oxygen which is essential for your lung health. This breathing process also reduces the strain your neck and upper chest muscles may experience which allows them to relax. Deep breathing relaxes the parts of your body that become tight through stress. The deep breathing not only allows higher amounts of oxygen into your cells and tissues but also promotes you to look deeply into yourself. This is where you can become centered even through a moment of stress.
Breathing Negates Emotional Turbulence
Deep breathing will calm the emotional drama and stories that are coming up in your mind. Stress has a lot to do with the inner voice inside of you that tells you nothing is going to be okay. You made a mistake at work and now you’re going to get fired. You have a lot of bills and you can’t be out of a job for even a day. Your world is about to fall apart. Just breathe. Take a moment and let your breath take you out of the story that’s bringing so much stress on. Breathing immediately diffuses that negative emotional energy so there’s nothing for you to react to. This allows your mind to come back to the present moment.
Here are a few breathing exercises you should try to bring you back to center in a stressful moment.
· Rest one hand on your stomach.
· Slowly inhale through the nose and bring air into your lungs.
· You should feel your belly rising against your hand.
· Breathe in deeply, to the point that your collar bones rise.
· Pause at the top of your breath.
· Exhale gently from your lungs while contracting your abdominal muscles.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
· Hold your right thumb over your right nostril while inhaling through the left nostril.
· As you hold your breath at the top, close off your left nostril with your ring finger.
· Lift your right thumb off your nostril and exhale through the right nostril.
· Inhale through the right nostril and close it off with the right thumb at the top of the breath.
· Do this practice, alternating nostrils for up to 5 minutes to achieve the full benefits.
Finding peace quickly in the moment of a chaotic moment can allow you to be more confidence every day. Knowing you have a tool to bring yourself back to center so you don’t suffer from stress will allow you to find a new kind of motivation and productivity in your life. When you find that situations at work, life, and play are creating stories in your head that cause you trauma, take a moment to breathe. Recognize that these moments will pass and that there’s no reason to react in a way that can cause you health issues later down the road.
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Author Profile:Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)
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Neal has had long running relationship with Daoism and its health related practices including Chi Gung, Meditation and a interest in its methods of using herbs and food to generate health. He hopes his passion will rub off on you in a positive way.