Stress seems to be the norm in our society, unfortunately, and just like any other suppressed emotion stress can cause physical manifestations when not dealt with ahead of time. Pranayama is the sanskrit word for breathwork (Prana = lifeforce/breath & ayama = restrain or control). If we practice controlling the breath, especially when stressed, our body will see results almost immediately. The capacity of our lungs are increased as we breath deeper and more stable allowing more oxygen in to our bodies. When we go down an anxious spiral of thoughts and overwhelming bodies if you pay attention to your body usually our breath is the first thing to get shallow. May even feel like you’re running out of air. I’ve talked a little bit about this in my Yoga Breathing Basics for Stress blog post. Practicing breathwork for just a few minutes a day will help regain control of your breath during stressful situations so you don’t end up in a downward spiral that in my case usually ended in panic attacks and isolation.
In the video below I demonstrate 5 different breathing exercises used in yoga. Keep in mind that these types of breathing practices have an impact on our energetic bodies so only work with the ones you feel comfortable with or along side an instructor trained in these methods. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy at any point just return to normal breathing.
The 5 Breathing exercises covered with some of their benefits:
- Ujayi Breathing
- Slows the breath and brings in fresh life force energy (prana). Also helps boost memory and concentration.
- Bee’s Breath (Brahmari)
- Relieves tension, stress and anger. Quiets mental chatter.
- Cooling Breath (Sitali)
- Cool the body helping with any fire imbalance within the body.
- Skull Shining Breath (Kapalabhati)
- Uplifting and a bit of an ab workout.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)
- Brings balance to the energy channels in our bodies. This is my favorite one. If you are feeling very stressed breathing through your left nostril will calm you. If you are feeling very tired and lacking energy covering your left nostril and breathing through your right nostril will give you a boost of energy. Therefore the alternate nostril breathing demonstrated in this video helps bring balance to both left and right channels.
I hope these practices help you. If you would like to practice them with me in our private community where I also give monthly meditations and holistic workshops join us HERE.
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