Friday, August 13, 2010

stress less sequencing: part one

i'm really excited to share this first stress-less sequence with you. 

when most people start practicing with me to alleviate anxiety, they are surprised that i often start with breath work.  pranayama is an integral part of one's practice and definitely a key component in our relaxation.  i also really love it because its something you can do anywhere. its a technique that you can use if you're stressed at work, sitting in traffic or about to give a big speech to company execs.

now there's tons of ways to meditate and each one has beautiful benefits, but for the sake of keeping this technique simple, i'd like to share a breath meditation.  i find this one powerful because when we are stressed we tend to have short, shallow chest breaths. these short breaths are no benefit to us and for those of us that deal with shortness of breath or gasping during panic attacks, long deep breaths can be a lifesaver. belly breathing is the way we should always be breathing... inhaling through our nose, filling our belly, ribcage and chest... then fully exhaling through the nose. making sure to take our time.  if you just want to practice engaging in these full breaths, take a moment to slowly count the in-breath, then practice making the out-breath the same length.  if you're feeling anxious, count the in-breath and make the out-breath double in length.  so a four count in-breath would be an eight count out-breath.

here's a video demonstration to help you really start your practice:

don't feel obligated to master this over night - remember, there's no such thing as perfect! your mind will wander, you'll get bored, you'll get frustrated... its all natural. just use this beginning meditation as a way to tap into the breath and allow belly breaths to be a natural part of you. this may feel weird in the beginning to breathe so slowly, or you may panic feeling like you're not getting enough air.  just go at your own pace and experiment. start slow, like she says, for 1 to 3 minutes a day and work up as you see fit.

since i don't always find time to sit in meditation, i've found success at making it a ritual. it becomes a habit and something i look forward to. i do my mini-meditations before every yoga practice for 5 minutes with my classes and i do another one before bed to release my day.

other people love meditating in the morning and i have one student that always sits in meditation rather than savasana at the end of our sessions. 

**another tip: if you're unsure of how to breathe into the belly, take a minute to lay down flat on the floor or on your mat. put a light book on top of your belly. focus on using your inhales to lift your belly so that the book rises. then on your exhales, pull the belly in to help push the air out and watch the book soften back down.  one you get the feeling of belly breathing, you can take it to a sitting position.

and to share a personal story with you, these deep breathing techniques were one of the most important parts of me eliminating my panic attacks. i noticed when i started to panic, my breath became short and rapid and launched me into a full attack. this awareness helped me keep my breath from becoming like that when i got really nervous and that kept my panic attacks away. i'm not saying this works like this for everyone, but for me personally, pranayama has been a crucial step in my healing journey. it helps me keep my mind clear and my body calm. its hard for the body to launch into panic when the breath makes it feel calm and relaxed.

No comments:

Post a Comment