Contributed by: Kimberly BlacK, 200YT
Calm Your Breath, Calm Your Mind
Stress is everywhere! Different stressors affect people different ways and we can see this stress in our daily lives. Whether it’s on our drive to work, or dealing with a work deadline, or even the news we see on TV, its all over! How we deal with our stress plays a huge part in our quality of life and so we need to find different ways to settle this stress before it leads to something worse like anxiety or depression.
Breathing techniques are often recommended to help with relaxation and stress management. Pranayama in yoga is breath work that’s usually done at the beginning of a class. Research has shown controlled breathwork can positively affect the nervous system and psychological or stress-related disorders. Sudarshan Kriya yoga (SKY) in particular is a breathing practice that has been shown to have positive impacts on the mind and body. This practice uses two main breathing techniques, Ujayi breath and Bhastrika breath, to aid in stress relief.
Ujjayi breath or “victorious” breath uses a slight constriction of the throat to create a soft hissing or “ocean” sound. It should be as if you were trying to fog up a mirror while breathing but with the mouth closed. This technique helps energize the body and calm the nervous and digestive systems.
Bhastrika or “Bellows breath uses a rapid inhale and quick forceful exhale to excite and then calm the breath and body. While keep the abs somewhat firm you inhale through the nostrils and then contract the abdominal muscles while exhaling to quickly force the air out of the nostrils in quick repeat. This should be done for only a short time and then followed by deep slow breaths to calm the body and avoid dizziness.
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, stressed or anxious try one of these techniques and see what works best for you, they can be done anywhere and anytime. A peaceful mind is only a few breaths away.