Have you ever found yourself with tensions in your shoulders, back, headache and barely breathing?
Does it sound like you? If so, you are in the right place as today I share with you a breath exercise for stress relief and why breath and our wellbeing are connected.
Before diving deep in our breath session, let’s talk about stress.
Let’s set the scene!
What is stress?
Stress is considered as a state of mental, physical or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.
If we see it as a short term response of the body in front of a specific and threatening situation, we need to be grateful for our “stress response” – fight or flight. Thanks to hormones like adrenaline we are lucid and we could run fast to escape that situation.
Unfortunately nowadays we don’t experience stress as a short term response, but as long term condition. This means – we suffer from chronic stress.
Let’s read what Judith Lasater, PHD, PT says about it (and nail it) in her book “Relax&Renew – Restful Yoga for stressful time”:
“Anthropologists tell us that the body that experiences stress has not changed much over the million years of being human. Our ancestors had the same anatomical and physiological characteristics as we who drive freeways and communicate via the information superhighway. We have an ancient body subjected to a modern problem: living with chronic stress”.
Click this link to lean more about Judith Lasater: https://www.judithhansonlasater.com
We experience stress in a very different way, as we are unique human beings walking and breathing on this heart.
How are you experiencing stress? I normally have tensions in my shoulders and neck area, headache and I stop breathing consciously.
How do I react to deflate the balloon of stress and step away from the SNS – fight, flight or freeze response?
I normally use two Yoga tools
I wrote about this in this Blog Post: https://corpogiardino.ch/meditation-as-a-mindful-practice-to-avoid-burnout/
- Breathwork, Pranayama.
How can the breath help when I am stressed out? Why the breath is often suggested to improve relaxation. Let’s dive deep into this interesting subject.
Breath as mirror of our Mind – and vice versa
To better understand this title, let’s play a game.
- Observe right now what you are thinking and the quality of your thoughts (fast, slow,happy, nervous, excited etc..).
- Observe your breath, the length of your inhale and exhale, where you are breathing etc..Can you see a response in your breath from what you are thinking?
When we practice Breathwork consciously, the mind controls our breath (by controlling the exercise) but at the same time the breath shapes the mind.
If we slow down the breath, the mind slows down, if we breathe faster, the mind becomes alert or nervous.
Simple Breathing Exercise for stressful situation
And now let’s practice together. Some hints:
- Prepare your sacred space and ask not to be disturbed.
- You can practice this exercise seated on the floor, on a pillow/block, or on a chair. Just make sure that you are comfortable and the body is not distracting you during the practice.
Using only the nose to breath in and out, focus your mind on your breath.
- Inhale for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts – practice a couple of round with this tempo
- Inhale for 5 counts, exhale for 5 counts – practice a couple of round with this tempo
- Inhale for 6 counts, exhale for 6 counts – practice a couple of round with this tempo
- Inhale for 7 counts, exhale for 7 counts – practice a couple of round with this tempo
If you feel fine in extending the tempo to 8, 9 or 10 feel free to do it.
Observe that the more you slow down the breath, the more your heart, and your thinking mind slow down.
One of the definition of Yoga is: “Yoga chitta vritti nirodha”( Yoga Sutra 1.2).
chitta vritti – vortex of the mind/active and superficial mind
nirodha – calming/stilling
So, Yoga is the action of calming/stilling the vortex/fluctuations of the superficial mind.
Yoga is effective because it brings stillness in our superficial mind (monkey mind, always jumping around) that causes a lot of stress.
Using this tool we can bring balance back in our life, self care and nourish our wellbeing.
What happens after we calmed down the superficial mind is another chapter related to the path and the purpose of Yoga – and I will write about it in the future.
For now let’s enjoy the soothing effects of extending the inhale and the exhale.
How do you feel after this practice? Feel free to leave a comment below, I would love to hear your feedback to admire the variety and the beauty of our unique experiences.