Beat Stress with Mindful Breathing

By Kris Layman

 

Yoga . . . when you think of the word “yoga” what comes to mind? Is it study of self? The awareness of your breath? Our perspective on yoga can be based on the physicality and less on the heart of the matter – which is “yoga is a work-in, not a ‘workout’” as stated by the teacher, Indu Aurora.

It is something that can be in each moment. Each breath. Let’s focus on our breathing for a moment. What does breathing mean to you or symbolize for you? The power of life, inspiration, receiving and letting go? Often it is something we take for granted. Which makes sense – why wouldn’t we, there are many other things we are thinking about.

But what if we just shifted our awareness around our breathing, how we look at it and think about it? It is like a hidden jewel, a hidden treasure for our health and well-being. How we breathe is a representation of our state of mind. Simply put, when we are stressed, our breath becomes shallow and fast. By guiding and shaping your breathing, you can create a calming effect. For example, as you are reading this pause for a moment, close your eyes if possible or just bring your gaze to one spot, allowing the brain less stimulus.

Now breathe in and breathe out to the same count (start with three) Inhale . . . one, . . . . two, . . . three . . . exhale, one. . . . two . . . three. . . It is as simple as that. The fastest way to create change for your nervous system is through the breath. We all have it, thankfully, and best of all – it’s FREE.

As simple as a pause in your day, to breathe in and out with awareness can lead us out of the stress response. When you breathe in the same count as you exhale you are communicating to the body there is no danger; it is safe to come out of the fight-or-flight stress response.

Let’s uncover the secret jewel and value it for what it is; life, health and inspiration! Ahhh…Thank you, breath.

Resources to help:

Place a little sticker on your watch, phone, rearview mirror or anywhere that you will see it daily, to remind yourself to take 4-5 rounds of balancing your breath. Inhale for 3-4 seconds and exhale the same length of time. Once you get comfortable with this, you can begin to increase and slow the breath down.

You can also set your phone timer, or there are many apps you can use: Insight Timer, Headspace, Sanctuary, the Breath App on Apple and more.

Kris Layman is an E-RYT 500 yoga teacher, owner and creative coordinator of Prema Yoga Studio and Certified Licensed Massage Therapist (since 1997). Layman enjoys leading yoga classes at Prema, Carleton and in the surrounding community. The space at Prema Yoga allows her to be creative with workshops, collaborating with incredible community members and working towards offering the full spectrum of yoga education – which encompasses all of health and wellness.

These statements are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Entertainment Guide editorial staff. 

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