If you don’t know how you feel, your breath will tell you. A short and shallow breath will tell you that you are anxious. A deeper and slower breath will take you into a calmer state of mind. I never knew how important the simple act of breathing was and is. The more I practice yoga, the more I am aware and in tune with the quality of my breath which informs me about my mental state of mind.
You will hear yoga teachers talk about pranayama which confused me when I first started yoga. Pranayama is breath control and enables practitioners to:
- bring awareness to each inhale and exhale
- actively decrease blood pressure
- adjust the body temperature
- adjust the heart rate and
- calm the mind.
Pranayama or controlled breathing is critical because it enables yogis to tune into their energy levels and supports the flow of energy. Pranayama and meditation are excellent tools to calm the mind. It is a way to clear energy pathways and contributes to maintaining our overall well being plus it supports the respiratory system.
Pranayama combined with meditation can be instrumental in building emotional and mental strength. Meditation is a technique to rest the mind and Yoga International (2018) highlighted that meditation works by stilling the busy-ness of the mind.
In our currently busy world, we are inundated with messages via mainstream media, social media, text messages and we are overwhelmed with information that can keep us in a state of busy-ness and we are always “on”.
Based on my personal experience with depression, anxiety, general daily life and managing the highs and lows of life, I understand how beneficial meditation and pranayama is. When my mind is busy and I am stressed, I pause and concentrate on my breath only. This process of stilling the mind and bringing attention to my breath means I am concentrating on how my body feels and air filling my body and leaving my body which in turn calms my mind because I am focusing on my subject only and it lowers my heart rate. Meditation and pranayama helps me to gain clarity and peace of mind to find solutions to challenges I may be experiencing in my life.
Take 5 minutes to reset
Samma vritti is a great breathing exercise to start with. Bring your body and mind into stillness and count your inhale and exhale for the same amount. For example, inhale over 4 seconds and exhale for 4 seconds. Complete this exercise over 5 breathes each morning to ground yourself before you start the day. If you feel stressed at work or in daily life, take a 5 minute break and go somewhere quiet to come into your breath and clear your mind.
Let me know how you go with Samma Vritti exercise and feel free to shoot me any questions!